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“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” ~Dalai Lama 

We toss around the phrase, “such a senseless tragedy.”

But the effects of any tragedy are “sense-full” not sense-less.

The sights, sounds, and feelings in the aftermath of any tragedy, whether played out on the world stage—like Ukraine—or in the supposedly safer confines of our homes, can push us into sensory overload.

“Senseless” tragedies can rattle the foundations of our faith and pick at the scabs of our wounds.

They cause me, at least, to seek out the greater good that might be hiding somewhere under the covers, in the darkness of my confusion: what good can come from this senseless war?

How can any good come from so much bad?

Yet it does, all the time, to the degree we believe it can, and will.

  • The horror of Nazi death camps propelled the creation of Israel
  • Superman’s fall from a horse propelled huge advances in treatments for those who are paralyzed
  • One mother’s outrage created MADD
  • AA
  • Amber Alerts

I could list a hundred examples. Good can, and does, result from bad. When we let it.

But—and this is a big ‘but’—the physical and emotional effects of any tragic event are defined, not by the event itself, but rather by our responses to it.

We can allow our natural reactions of shock and sadness, of horror and outrage to the invasion of Ukraine to suck us into a malaise that prevents us from seeing any silver lining, any hope of moving forward, or we can use those same reactions to propel us into a future that reflects a deeper commitment to notice and appreciate the beauty and brilliance around us every day.

To see the good in the bad—to look for it, actively, daily.

I am reminded of Bishop Desmond Tutu’s words in response to a journalist’s question when Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was asked how he could maintain such a positive and hopeful outlook for the future of the world in the face of so much negativity and tragedy.

His response, spoken with confidence and twinkling eyes, stays with me to this day:

“Because I’ve read the book, and I know who wins in the end!”

And now, around the world, people are coming together, showing their support for Ukraine.

Yet, the larger question becomes, what good will flow from the tragic events in each of our own lives?

What good might we create collectively?

Because Putin and his team are examples of those who have allowed their personal responses to whatever tragedies they have experienced in their lives to harden into a collective consciousness of death and destruction.

The people of Ukraine are experts on resilience; I believe they will fend off Putin’s invasion.

And they’ll recover, I pray, over time, as will we all, if we keep our hearts and minds open to believing I—the difference between what was, and what will be.

Tragedy is far from senseless.

Rather, it can knock some sense into us.

If we let it.

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” ~Robert Kennedy

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