“A gunman on a high floor of a Las Vegas hotel rained a rapid-fire barrage on an outdoor concert festival on Sunday night, leaving at least 59 people dead, injuring 527 others, and sending thousands of terrified survivors fleeing for cover, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.”
My thoughts are with all those families and friends who have lost loved ones.
I feel I have to comment on the tragic shootings in the USA, the horror is on every media outlet many shown in graphic detail. The USA gets a slating from many in the UK and Europe yet when I spent over 3 months there recently lecturing I had a greay insight into some of the USA. I met so many kind and caring folk but was there when the Presidential Elections were on. Barrack Obama was standing and I was amazed by the way the country was split at the time not just by politics but by race. I had many discussions with the students at Unity College in Maine where I was speaking and staying. It was interesting that among the many things we spoke about was the gun lobby and there was huge differences in opinions by the students. I was amazed at the views on the “right to bear arms” and how proud many are to have this. There were other students who had the opposite view and some of the discussions were interesting. Of course it is a different culture from us but we had a few heated discussions I even went out to see a” right of passage” where some young kids and parents went out to show me what happens before a youngster gets their first kill, usually a wild turkey. I found it strange and dislike killing anything especially for sport but this was a tradition of another country.
In my 3 months I travelled all over the USA ending up in Yosemite and meeting many of the Park Wardens most of whom are armed. It was a huge eye opener to me but as I it is a different culture and to be at lectures where some of those attending are armed took some getting used to. It was interesting but an eye opener into another culture.
I have met many Americans in my travels with the military and found them a great people like us they have their problems. I went to a few American aircraft crashes high in our mountains and wild places and found those involved the best of the best. In Tibet in 2001 when I was with the RAF Team on the North Ridge on Everest I worked a lot with the American Team. They were filming high on the mountain on the Mallory and Irving mystery and got involved in a big Rescue. They were the most talented group on the mountain a group of “high altitude superstars” They and their Sherpas saved the lives of two Russian climbers high above 8000 metres. They were incredible gave up their summit attempt to save lives and few can work or save a life above the Death Zone (8000 metres) They were what many think of Americans that they can be brash or abrasive, they were good people with no egos. I was a good friend with the Russians I was there when they told the story of the climber they could not save to the surviving Russian members. They spoke with compassion, care and humility and left a huge impact on us all. It was not an easy time at all but one that will stay with me for life and made a lasting impression on me. It was one of the highest rescues at altitude at the time and yet hardly made the news.
The USA is going through a hard time it has some huge problems but I hope this latest tragedy galvanise this great country into making huge changes that will stop these type of tragedies in the future. It will be hard road as the gun lobby is so powerful and will take brave leadership to take them on. I have met many great Americans in my life and how they need a leader just now. The gun laws are so entrenched in the USA and it is hard to see any change despite the tragedy that has occurred, how do you change this thinking?
Please be aware what you read and hear during these awful times in the USA. To me and many the Americans are still area great nation that does so much good all over the world and I am praying they sort things out.
Thinking of all my pals in the USA.
Heavy October 2017