Compassion In the Face of Tragedy

I have always known that people are mostly good-hearted. I have seen countless events, which were tragedies or brought heartache, where people pulled together and somehow become one. Differences seem to magically fade to the background, and a mutual respect for life comes to the surface. These situations seem to bare our souls, it strips us of any vanity, and people become real. Their defenses disappear and their motives become clearly humane.

It seems that of late, there are more personal tragedies surrounding us. But, in fact, there have always been tragedies in this worldthey just appear more numerous and ever-present when they hit close to our hearts. With the media, email, Face Book, and all the immediate ways to communicate, we are alerted instantly and continuously. Think back in our history to the Pony Expresspeople didnt know about events for weeks or months!

I have been a witness to several tragedies this past year. Some were of family members, close friends, friends of friends, and even perfect strangers. I am happily amazed that when there is a tragedypeople draw together. People help. People set their differences aside. It is quite heart-warming!

The other evening, I was at one of my daughters basketball games. It was a heated game, lots of competition and rivalry I could sense. All of a sudden, a man sitting in front of me on the bleachers turned to me and said, I think this girl needs help! I looked to the left and down to the floorand there was a young high school freshman lying on the gymnasium floor having a seizure. I dont know if any of you have witnessed someone having a seizure, but this was not the first time for meand the sight is pretty chilling. Her whole body was tense and convulsing, her eyes were rolled back, and she was foaming at the mouth.

As soon as the gasps and hushed whispers spread throughout the gymnasium, the game stopped and you could hear a pin drop. A few key adults came to the girls side to protect her, putting a pencil in her mouth so she wouldnt bite her tongue. Everyone else respectfully gave her some space. I looked around the solemn gymnasium, to find all the players, cheerleaders, and most of the spectators on one knee. They were worried, concerned, and being respectful. Everyone present, including strangers and team rivals, showed concern and was ready to helpnot just her family, friends, and school mates. I saw some clusters of people praying on the sidelines. The girls mom was there and had to give her an injection. When she did this, the girl let out an eerie scream. This was quite frightening and alarming to the young spectators. Once the paramedics came, the game resumedbut I could feel the heaviness of all the hearts still hanging in the air.

This is just a small example of a tragedy that happened and how people responded. I have seen it over and over againpeople pulling together for the good of someone in need. Im sure the girls mom received some follow up calls, cards, well wishes, and maybe even some meals to help with her stress. In the big scheme of things, this example was not a huge tragedybut a tragedy none the less.

After the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut this month, I have witnessed an outpour of compassion and sympathy towards the victims and their familiesand even to the perpetrator, from a sympathetic-mental-illness-standpoint. There have been letters written, moments of silence, and Pay-It-Forward campaignsall from a country of people in shock and in mourning. There is an urgency to help this country come together in kindness. I see that people are encouraging people to do random acts of kindness. Face Book was covered in sympathy posts. People wanted to help. People wanted to ease pain. People wanted to honor the lost. How did you feel? How did you respond?

My wheels began churning.

Why must it take a tragedy for people to be kind to one another?
Why must someone get hurt or killed for people to do nice things for others.
What if we adopted a lifestyle of Paying-it-Forward and doing Random Acts of Kindness on a daily basis?
Can you imagine the wonderful feelings and acts that would follow?
Can you picture a world where people were giving and loving and kind in small simple ways?
Getting and receiving love has natural ebb and flow

We just somehow have buried it beneath selfishness, hatred, and fear.

Take Action: This week and moving forward, lets all make a concerted effort to do one or more nice things for someone each and every day! Lets support each other and be helpful and sympathetic and compassionateto ourselves, to our family, to our friends, and to total strangers! Lets see what a difference a little love, kindness, and compassion can makeI bet it will feel FABULOUS! If you already make it a practice to do unexpected kind things for othersGOOD for youKeep on spreading LOVE!

Because Together is Better,


  1. Well said! I think most people innately want to help others. We get so easily wrapped up in our day-to-day lives though that we often become self-centered and it often takes a tragedy to bring us back to our senses. It is heartwarming to see the outpouring of love and support of people coming together as one to help each other. My prayer is that we all become a little less selfish and pay-it-forward daily.

  2. I think random acts of kindness and pay-it-forward attitudes are becoming more common and instinctive. Many people just get so consumed and distracted by their ego, what they want, winning or being better than everyone else, etc. that they seem to need a tragedy to ground them and bring them back to reality, to what’s really important. It’s unfortunate that it takes something like that, but I guess if anything positive can be found from the tragic situations, maybe that is it, that it brings people closer together. I really do think, in general, that people are becoming more sensitive and compassionate. It would really be nice if the random acts of kindness were not so random, and I think this is definitely something that parents should teach their children and encourage them to do regularly. What did you do or can you do today to help someone? Even small things add up (holding a door for someone, smiling and greeting a stranger, giving someone a compliment).

  3. Amanda Macari says:

    Well said Deanna. This is the direction I hope this country goes in spite of tragedies. People helping people, humans showing humanity, and love without judgement or prejudice.

  4. Michael Bobeczko says:

    Wow! What a beautiful and wonderful Christmas gift/thought.
    Michael B

  5. Gina Manzeck says:

    What a great article, couldn’t agree more!!! Keep on spreading the love ~
    Muah, hugs kisses, x’s and o’s!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Happy New Year!!!!

  6. I accept your challenge, my dear!
    I WILL reach out with kindness to those that God brings down my life’s path.
    Peace and Happy CHRISTmas to all your readers!

  7. I’m on it!!!!! love AJ

  8. Gigi Peterson says:

    Why does it take a tragedy for people feel connected?? I remember the day of 9/11. I went to work that day, making a sales call at a large hospital. I went into the elevator and instead of the awkward “forward stance, spaced apart, eyes on the numbers over the door”, I was greeted by strangers with warm hellos, eye contact, and a sense that we were in some way connected. A couple days after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I was at the gym and a mother a couple tredmills away from me just struck up a conversation and we ended up sharing briefly how fortunate we felt to be parents and our compassion for those involved in the tragedy. It is a shame that after a tragic event, so quickly we as a nation just go back to our self-centered, disconnected ways. This message will remind me to make an effort to show warmth, respect, and kindness to those I come in contact with every day. Thanks D….MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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