What to Do When Tragedy Strikes

by Robert Rizzo | Twitter, Facebook,

Image: Sign of Hope

Today is a sad day in the US. Unless, you live under a rock you’re aware of the shooting that occurred last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut killing 20 children and 6 adults.

This wasn’t a rational act. But once again we find ourselves bombarded with the questions, who, what, when, where, why and how this could’ve possibly happened. We want the answers so we can put this incident in a tidy little box. Then we can take solace in the knowledge there was a cause and an effect. Because causes are preventable, right?

So we start to point fingers at possible causes. The guns. The mental illness.

Our President is hinting at gun control and mental health professionals caution against lumping all mental illnesses into one bucket, while using the unexpected publicity to encourage more funding for care and research.

Everyone has an agenda. Both are big, easy targets for our grief, frustration, pain and confusion.

Why do we try to rationalize an irrational act? There are no neat tidy little boxes to put this mess in. But that’s what we try to do. It’s a coping mechanism.

On September 11, 2001 terrorists claimed the lives of almost 3,000 Americans. Because they used commercial airliners, we as a nation are reminded of the incident every time we’re herded through airport security like so much cattle before boarding our flight. A response that was really only intended to provide temporary security and stability to a struggling airline industry in the aftermath of the tragedy is now a permanent reminder of “too little, too late” at a cost of $10 billion annually.

Then someone tries a shoe bomb and we get to remove our shoes before every flight. Once again, “too little, too late”.

The problem with these responses is humans are resourceful and inventive. If a person wants to get around a mouse trap they’ll find a way.

I don’t want to diminish in any way the loss of this community and the pain so many families are feeling right now in Newtown. But rather than point fingers at causes, what can we give of ourselves to help them and the rest of the nation heal?

Monday, I saw Pastor Joel Osteen on The Today Show. He and his wife Victoria lead Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas boasting around 40,000 members. When asked how he thought people should respond, he simply said, “We need to give people hope.”

That seems so irrational. It’s intangible, we want something tangible, something rational, like who, what, when, where, why, and how. We want accountability and justice. But I agree with Pastor Joel. Reliving the pain won’t help us heal. We need to give hope to our friends, our family, and our children. We need to remind themĀ  today can be better than yesterday. And tomorrow can be better, than today.

We need to tell them we’ll do our best to protect them. Irrational things may happen, but we’ll be there for them. Not judging them, but accepting them. Our response in the face of difficult circumstances models to our children how they should respond. Let’s model grace and hope in the face of tragedy.

Irrational acts will happen as long as people have a free will and emotions. The only way to absolutely prevent these atrocities is a totalitarian dictatorship. But then you trade one evil for another.

Life is filled with good times and bad times. What we need during all of those times is hope. If you lose your hope, your life will only spiral downward into depression, fear and anxiety.

So today, give hope. Yes, we want to recognize the loss of this community. Each of these children and adults was a precious treasure.

But we have to move on, little by little, one step at a time, one breath at a time. And the only way to do that is to have hope. Be someone’s hope today.

Image: bitzcelt

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Robert is the founder of RobertRizzo.com | Mediocrity-Free Living. He is passionate about helping people discover the rewards of daily giving.

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