Tragedy, response to tragedy, natural disaster, reaction to tragic events, community response to tragedy, how to respond to a tragedy, Frank Sonnenberg

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Some tragedies, such as natural disasters, terror attacks, or even financial crises, are beyond our control. But we do have control over how we respond to them. Some people rise to the occasion and show what they’re made of, while others… We learn what they’re made of too. The truth is, tragedy brings out the best and the worst in people.

It never ceases to amaze me that some people capitalize on other people’s misfortune. For example, some folks exploit tragedy to attract personal attention or to demonize their enemies before the facts are even known. Other people use tragedy to make money or to pit one group against another to further their personal or political agenda. And if that’s not bad enough, some folks create scams to rob people before they’ve regained their footing. If you believe in karma, as I do, these folks are in deep trouble.

BUT, although there are devious, insensitive, and hateful people among us, there are also many unsung heroes who give of themselves in unimaginable ways. We should learn from them and emulate their behavior.

11 Valuable Lessons Born from Tragedy

Just as a rainbow after a shower, some behavior is a beautiful sight to behold on the heels of a tragedy. Here are 11 lessons that you can learn from exceptional role models:

  1. Be smart. Problems are best addressed before they arise.
  2. Be courageous. Run toward the problem rather than away from it.
  3. Be action-oriented. Complaining isn’t a substitute for action. Nothing happens until you make it happen.
  4. Be neighborly. Reach out. Be supportive, but don’t be overbearing.
  5. Be generous. Give without being asked. Give to show that you care. Give out of love, not obligation. Give a little if you can’t give a lot. Give any way you can.
  6. Be selfless. If you can’t contribute money, give of yourself. If it doesn’t hurt a little, you’re not giving enough.
  7. Be realistic. Face reality, and find a way to deal with the misfortune rather than withdraw from the situation.
  8. Be forgiving. If someone is responsible for the tragedy, learn to forgive. Forgivingdoesn’t mean forgetting, nor does it mean approving. It just means that you’re letting go of the anger.
  9. Be reflective. Some tragedies may be preventable, so learn from mistakes. Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.
  10. Be grateful. Be mindful of what really matters and appreciate what you already have.
  11. Be hopeful. Have faith. Hope motivates you to stay the course when difficulties give you every reason to pause. Hope also has a way of saying that even a bad start can still have a happy ending.

Let a Tragedy Bring Out the Best in You

We often hear about the ills of the world, but there’s little said about people who extend their hand to those they don’t even know. Their kindness is overwhelming, and their generosity and cheer are both hopeful and exhilarating. Our gratitude should reflect their kindness and sacrifice.

Many of these folks are not rich and famous; they’re like you and me. They’re willing to lend a hand today, knowing the shoe can be on the other foot tomorrow.

How would you feel if you were in desperate need and someone you didn’t even know came to your aid? You’d be overjoyed by their thoughtfulness, and their gesture would rekindle your faith in mankind. Their action would serve as a constant reminder that even though the world is large, one person can still make a world of difference. Be a role model that makes you proud. If a tragedy happens, let it bring out the best in you.