Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Bad Things Happen

I want to talk about a couple of recent events. The first is the Japan earthquake and tsunami. The second is the murder of a 30 year old woman in downtown Bethesda, my hometown.

It can be easy to misinterpret words like "we should accept each moment as it is" as meaning that we should not react to tragedies, that these things are somehow OK. But both of these events, one global, one in my backyard, are no doubt tragedies. Both have changed lives. Both have created grief and suffering and will continue to do so.

Accepting that is very different than denying it. Accepting it means to fully feel the grief and sorrow, to fully express both our impulse to help, and our fear that something like this could happen to us. We're all afraid to die and yet we will all die. And one of the reasons these tragedies affect us so deeply is because they shake us out of our wanting to believe we're safe.

We are not safe. Any one of us, or any one of our loved ones, could go at any time, under any circumstances. This is our human experience.

If there is a gift in these tragedies, and I believe there is, it is in helping us to see that connection to our human family. We see heroism, we witness our own innate desire to help,  and we see our better natures shine even through our fear and sorrow.

When times are good, it seems like all we want is more, and all we do is fight over who's going to get it.  But when tragedy strikes, we are somehow called to a higher purpose, and we all connect in that.


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