Responding to Tragedy: When Answers Are Not The Answer

'Wisdom' and Other Words To Live By From a Wet-Behind-The Ears Oracle

I have a tendency to tip toe away from questions about catastrophes because it seems as though no matter what you say, the answers have a way of honking someone off.   Few questions are more highly charged than ones that ask “Why?” about situations such as the recent destruction and loss experienced in Haiti. 

Few things leave us more paralyzed with grief or mobilized by sympathy than the seemingly senseless suffering of those affected by such events.  And few events that we observe shake our faith to its foundations more than the ones we can’t find any truly comforting explanation for.

But, the question was recently brought to me about this situation in particular and more specifically, about how we can come to any sort of peace as we witness and participate in the devastation of it all.  So in the spirit of humble willingness to receive whatever answers might be available, I took the question about how we are to respond to tragedy to The Team . . .

We offer our response to this question all the while recognizing that the response we offer is not the one you think you want to hear because the response you ‘think’ you want to hear to any question you tend to ask about this or any other event that you perceive as tragic or catastrophic, is one that gives you a reason for its occurrence, an explanation of why or how such bad things happen, particularly to the children and other innocent ‘victims’ that you are observing in their pain and struggle.

We understand the difficulty of observing such pain and heartache.  We understand the pain of witnessing such pain—and the desire that such observing gives birth to for peace . . .  for understanding . . . for comfort . . . for hope.  The powerful desire for things to be better is an understandable and appropriate outcome of such observation.  And yet, we must also say to you that what you think you really want to hear—which is an explanation for why such things occur–is really not what serves you.

You think that such an explanation will somehow help you make sense of what seems senseless.  You think that by making sense of what seems senseless, you can then persuade yourselves that through this understanding, through this figuring it out of why such calamities occur, you will somehow be able to prevent them from occurring to you.  You think this understanding will protect you and those you love, will in some way render you immune to such unforeseen and unpredictable and uncontrollable events.

And we must then reply by saying there is no such assurance.  In fact there is nothing you can ‘figure out’ that will provide the safety that you seek from anything you call “tragedy” or even “trouble”.  And you may then respond by saying something like “Aha!  I knew it!  We are all mere pawns . . .  mere puppets . . .  helpless bugs waiting to be swatted or squashed or stomped on–or in this case, trapped beneath the rubble and the ruins . . .”  You will conclude that all is lost or that the Universe is in fact the frequently cruel and random place that you’ve always suspected it might be.

Some of you will search those ruins for causes and effects, trying to unearth the sins or crimes or bad judgment that brought all structure crashing down around those at the scene.  Some of you will wage campaigns of condemnation, blaming this or that or him or her or us or them . . .  anything to put some distance there between the ones who’ve fallen and the ones still standing.

And we say, none of this will do you any good in the long run—not in the way that you wish.  We say, as hard as it may be for you to hear, it doesn’t matter why or how it happened, and all your hard work to devise a theory or hypothesis will get you nowhere that feels good for very long as you stand in your here and now, reaching for a way to find relief.

So, you say, what can we do?  If answers are not the answer, then what is?  And once again we give to you what we are always giving you—a reminder of who you really are—and what that means in this as in any situation that you find yourselves living and observing.  In this extreme, intense, and troubling situation you can choose the view you hold—and it is in that choosing that you’ll find the power that you seek.  It is in the choosing of that view that you will feel again the freedom that seems lost but that is always yours, the freedom to decide what it is you’re seeing, what you’re thinking—and therefore what you are believing.

You can survey a scene such as the one that recently unfolded and you can choose to sink into the holes left in the Earth, lose yourselves among the ruins, despair at the destruction that’s bombarding you in unrelenting images from nearly every source—and conclude as so many do, that you inhabit an unkind, unjust world where all that you can do is be ever vigilant, ever watching, ever waiting for the other shoe—or building—to collapse on you.  You can, with unquestionable justification, choose to weep and wail, to shake your fists or to throw yourselves into the work of trying to prevent such cataclysms from coming near you.

On the other hand, you can also choose to search your world for all the ready reasons, all the available proof that well being still abounds.  You can choose to be aware of all the places, pockets, corners, continents of your world that continue thriving.  You can even search the scene in question, the scene of such destruction, and find ample evidence of life that will not be denied, of survival and success, of the heroic human spirit that prevails no matter what conditions may befall it.

You can choose to give because it’s in your heart to give.  You can choose to care because it’s in your heart to care.  You can choose to cry because you feel the love connecting you to every man and woman, child and beast who shares the thriving planet you call home, in spite of all your widely fueled fears about how endangered it—and all of you—may be.

You can choose to remember that what you call death is never the tragedy you believe, no matter when or to whom it comes.  You can choose to recognize that the beauty and the value and the quality of a life is never measured by its duration, except by those who see no other way or who must somehow face a loss they do not wish to face.

In other words, our response to this occurrence that so understandably overwhelms you is no different than the one we offer to you, regardless of how large or small the situation that gives birth to your asking:  you can choose.  And while it’s true that you can’t choose every circumstance or situation or dilemma that approaches you, you are never as powerless as you tend to feel, never as lost as you often think, and never as alone as your sorrow would suggest.

Take another look at what you’re looking at.  Look for the hope that always hides behind the fear.  Look for the faith that digs you out from under any rubble.  Look for the freedom that is waiting for your attention, waiting to ring true that moment that you’re willing to just stop, and look—and listen.  The answer may not be the answers that you think you need . . .  but you always have available to you a peace that you can choose and in the choosing of it—an answer that will never fail to bring you back to the comfort that your heart desires.

Nothing seems to point out the contrast between the physical and Nonphysical view of human experience more than questions about the reasons for our pain.  I note that contrast even in much less extreme situations than this . . . in fact, in situations that seem awfully petty compare to ones like this. 

Nothing humbles us—brings us to our knees—more than monumental suffering that we can’t attach to any reasonable cause.  I hear—or see—these words flowing from a place I call my connection to Source, taking form on the page or the computer screen, and I wonder about them as much as anyone. 

I wonder if somewhere in that humility that is part of what rises up in us in response to these events, is the wisdom that is spoken of so clearly here—and that can somehow take us out of the shadows and the tears and back into the light that always waits to lead us home.


About Dan

Published novelist, poet, essayist, copywriter, photographer and college educator. Visit me at

Posted on February 7, 2010, in Abraham-Hicks, Channeling, Creating Your Own Reality, Deliberate Creating, Empowerment, Faith, Healing, Law of Attraction, Self Development, Spirit, Well being. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Powerful words, Dan. Thanks for sharing them.

    For me, whether it’s tragedy on large scale or small, it’s about learning to detach — not from the event itself, but from the need to know what it “means.” It’s about trusting in the presence of higher meaning while releasing my very human desire to know what that meaning is. It’s about separating “want to know” from “need to know.”The former is ever-present, yet I feel called to let it go. The latter is an illusion.

    Thanks again, Dan, for letting the wisdom that comes through you illuminate so many others, too.

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