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Social Issues: Real Life Tragedy and Survival

Updated on February 11, 2013

We may look different but our needs are the same.

We are all just pebbles in the stream of life.
We are all just pebbles in the stream of life. | Source

In real life, not the life in our imagination, there will always be tragedy in our society that tears at the core of what we know and love. We become conditioned to tragedy. When you care about others, you learn to live with these feelings. They become as much a part of us as joy and love and contentment. They are also the feelings that almost paralyze our thinking process while our sense of caring is escalated to levels that cannot be quantified.

During the days and weeks after September 11, 2001, those paralyzing thoughts were with me around the clock. The feelings of loss were with me every waking moment and I was acutely aware of my own feelings of helplessness. Other than donating a small amount of money, there seemed little I could do. Each day the news brought home the stories of real people who had suffered a loss that the rest of us could not fully comprehend. America’s most vibrant city had been attacked by the forces of hate. It was more than I could comprehend.

Hurricane Sandy

It happened again when Hurricane Sandy proved to be no less an enemy than the forces of hate. With each passing day we learned of more deaths, more destruction, more tragedy piled upon tragedy. There were stories of real people suffering real hardship. And again, I felt helpless and my heart ached.

Just a few months later, we watched the news again as innocent children and their mentors were gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and we were shocked again by the reality of real people suffering tragedy that made no sense to us.

This is the real life, not the life in our imagination.

My thoughts of the suffering are random but they are constant.

  • As I walked into my kitchen this morning, I remembered the mother who should be headed to her kitchen to have coffee before waking her children up for school. She will not send her children off to school this day as they were lost in the flood waters and all she has is her grief.
  • As I turned the television on, I remembered the police officer wo rushed into an elementary school and found the slain bodies of beautiful children scattered in a classroom.
  • When I flushed my toilet I remembered the family with no toilet to flush this morning.
  • As I fixed my cereal, I remembered the young married couple with no cereal to eat this morning.
  • When my phone rang early this morning and I heard my niece on the other end, I remembered the grandmother whose who will never hold her grandchild again while reading a bedtime story.

These are not imaginary people living imaginary lives. They were real. They are real. And their pain and grief is as real as real gets.

Global Thoughts

When I cannot handle the emotions of the personal stories any more, my thoughts automatically go to more global thoughts. I wonder how so many can see the news and still not think it matters what we do to the earth. I wonder - are they really so detached or naïve that they don’t think it matters how much drilling we do to satisfy are incessant need for oil? Have we evolved into a society where guns and killing are the answer to hate or fear? Do they not wonder how much coal we can remove from the core of our planet before we create an unstable foundation that will not sustain the weight of our greed for more development? Are we so obsessed with more that we are willing to allow industry to keep polluting our rivers and streams and saturate our atmosphere with compounds that destroy the very air we need to live? How much longer can we ignore the mentally ill in our society and continue to think it is someone else's problem?

And I want to scream out – it does matter! Human life matters.The earth is what sustains human life. Everything we need to live is provided by this place we call earth. The rest, the cars, the clothes, the toys, they are nothing more than fluff. What really matters is life and we are destroying the very environment we need to sustain life.

I want to scream out - our children are our future. When we accept our responsibility to them; to ourselves? Do we not see that they look to us for guidance and comfort, to be an example of what is good in this life?

This imaginary life, where everything is someone else's fault or someone else's responsibility isn't working. People are real. Our environment is real. And now it's time for the rest of us to get real and invest ourselves in positive change. That - is reality.

Rate the government's response to Hurricane Sandy.

2.3 out of 5 stars from 3 ratings of Government response

Political Thoughts

My brain switches gears again and I think about the political climate in our country. We are so divided and it makes us weaker as a people. Even in the aftermath of 911 and Hurricane Sandy and yes, Newtown, Connecticut too, we are still divided and fighting over things that will not matter if we do not begin taking care of our environment and our children.

When I see the destruction caused by terrorism, nature or a mentally ill young man, I cannot help but wonder how so many can think it doesn’t matter who we elect to public office. It does matter. Real people are dependent on the decisions our elected representatives make. There are those that say they don’t want big government and then gripe that FEMA isn’t doing enough on Staten Island or on the Jersey Shore. Some say we need to create more private sector jobs and then complain that our infrastructure is so vulnerable to natural disaster or terrorism. We all worry about the debt we are creating for the next generation but I find myself wondering if there will be another generation if we don’t take care of the children we have already brought into this world. And I want to scream out – yes it matters who we elect. We need someone with a vision for the future and a plan for how to conserve and preserve this earth’s natural resources. We need someone who cares about human life and real people. This - is reality.

My Hiding Place - Gratitude

When it all gets to be too much for my senses, I turn to what is familiar and provides comfort to me. I look to gratitude to save me from my own thoughts. I am blessed. My family is safe as I write this. They are healthy and safe and, loved. We have modest homes but we are comfortable. We have not always had it easy but we have been blessed with a life without horrible tragedy. Through the minor tragedies we have endured, we have learned and we are stronger and more resilient. My family understands that life is more important than the material things that could all be gone tomorrow. But isn’t that easy for us to say when we have so much?

We are not waking up in a shelter today knowing that 30 years of memories have been blown away or burned to the ground. We are not wondering where our loved ones are this morning as we go about our routines. We have food and water and shelter and clothing, heat and electricity, cars and jobs. We have each other and we have our health. We are not worried today, about disease from sewage polluted waters or the possibility of a natural gas explosion destroying what is left of our home. We are not worried about how we will get to work or if there is even a job to go to. And we are not worried about finding the body of a neighbor underneath the uprooted tree next door. And we are not preparing to attend the funeral of a child killed in a random, senseless shooting.. We are so blessed. This is our reality but for some, it is the life they only imagined.

My Hope and Belief in The Real People

We are a nation that has taken too much for granted and we are the people that leave too much to others instead of taking responsibility for ourselves. But we are also a nation of resilience and even those who feel that they cannot face the day will take one step at a time towards survival and they will get there. The kindness of strangers will lift them up and sustain them. The prayers of those they will never meet will lift them up and give them the strength and courage to face tomorrow. The generous of heart will provide the basic material needs that will sustain them as they begin the healing process and from the chaos and tragedy, stories of heroes will rise up. It is who we are – real people, in the real life, and reaching out to real people who are in real need.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

No matter where we are in life, we all want the same thing - to be safe and loved.

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  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, you have a great grasp of this dynamic. Men and women are designed differently and for good reason. But, it can also create problems when communication is lacking. I wrote a hub about that too. :-) But you are absolutely correct that collectively, through prayer, caring, and donations - we do make a difference.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    A really cool thing that this hub was a part of is something I think a lot of men do not get. In times of stress, a man worries so about the physical needs of his family, he forgets, so does his wife. Her questions are not nagging but should be embraced as an expression of a desire to be one in worry.

    We see that we get caught up in our own, and forget that we should share the moment with others. Men stand alone, for only short periods, men stand side by side for eternity. We have sent more donations and strengthened our prayers for those suffering. That is real.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh Eric, I'm sorry you're having a bad day. We all do from time to time, don't we? I am so glad you found something here that helped a little. It's so true that when we can step out of our own shadows to help someone else, the sun seems to shine a little brighter. It's not always easy to take that first step out though. I do understand. You have a good heart though so anytime you need a little shove, just stop by. I'm happy to nudge you if you will do the same for me. :-)

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Hey Linda and Theresa, this hub is titled Real Life. I just took a break just to feel sorry for myself, all my woes, sorrows and troubles. In my fog I came here. You two just really helped me keep it in real life.

    Truly the remedy for self serving feeling bad for ourselves is, to pray for and help others who have it so much worse - Thanks Mightily.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Good morning Teresa. You and I share these feelings. I too lost everything in a house fire about 30 years ago. I was very young (about 22) and had very little to lose but it was still horrible. My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the loss of personal memories such as photos or those precious little gifts given to us by our loved ones. My famly and friends helped me to, a lot, so I was really blessed. I just cannot imagine how it must feel when all your neighbors have suffered the same loss and none of them can really help each other. This country is generous though, in times of need, and I just pray it will be enough. Thank you for sharing with me today.

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 

    6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Linda - Beautifully written and heart-felt Hub. I have never been in a flood or faced a hurricane, although I have seen the paths of destruction left in neighborhoods not far from me here in Georgia. I can't even imagine the level of destruction and human dislocation caused by a Katrina or a Sandy.

    But my thoughts and prayers are with them as are yours. It was a much smaller tragedy for sure, but my memories of a house fire we suffered when my sons were 11, 13, and 15 give me a little insight into their fear, and sense of loss.

    We did have help from neighbors and family, for which I was and still am, extremely grateful, but it was an overwhelming and terrible thing to live through when you realize that all that is left is the brick shell of your home. That was twenty years ago and I know victims of Sandy will have different memories forever as well.

    This is an important and meaningful hub. Thank you. ~~Theresa

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Faith, you always make me feel good. There is this ray of sunshine all around you and we both know what it is. Thank you.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 

    6 years ago from southern USA

    Such a lovely and heartfelt hub dear one.

    I understand your thought process when such things happen as this ---so very surreal it seems, but then it hits us, no ------very real indeed.

    Excellent and beautifully written hub. We are thinking, praying and sending love to all the victims and lending a hand in whatever manner we can, as we always do as a nation as a whole, when disaster strikes. We really do pull together despite our differences.

    Voted Way Up.

    In His Love, Faith Reaper

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey shiningirisheyes! Thank you. I am like a sponge when it comes to life's lessons. I'm fascinated with the human response to life's ups and downs. Mostly, I just have this big old heart that cares about people and thinks we should be more kind to each other. It came with age and I wouldn't trade where I am for my youth for all the money in the world. I really appreciate your words.

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 

    6 years ago from Upstate, New York

    I'm so in awe of your insight. All too often we realize what matters, only after losing much.

    Great job with Sandy by the way.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh MH, I'm not leading anything. I'm just so full of sadness and anger that I don't know what else to do with it. I can't even turn the news off because I feel guilty for not feeling the pain. lol I probably need counseling. I know everyone doesn't feel the way I do and that's their right but I don't know how you can look at the images and not think something is horribly wrong. Thank you MG. You do understand and I know you care. It means a lot.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    6 years ago from San Francisco

    You go girl. It feels good to be a leader, doesn't it.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Rich. It's a tough one for sure. After watching the coverage again tonight, I just decided what I already knew and that is that I had to do what I could and not worry about what "they" would do if the tables were turned. It's about people helping people. God knows I would hope that someone cared enough to help me if I was standing in those shoes. I know how helpless I feel watching it. Can you imagine how helpless it must feel to be standing in the middle of it. When I lost my house to a fire as a young adult, people helped. Looking back now, I can barely remember who they were because I was so traumatized but I know without them, I would have been lost. We just have to listen to our hearts, don't we? Thanks for adding to the depth of it all. It takes all of us to understand and make the changes.

  • rcrumple profile image


    6 years ago from Kentucky

    Linda - You have echoed my thoughts. I have empathy for those suffering from Sandy, yet, when they're asking for people to help them, I wonder how many helped those of Katrina or Andrew. I remember experiencing Frederick in 1979, and there wasn't any TV telethon to raise money. Last year in the South, and this year across the nation, tornadoes have devastated the homes and small towns of many that have had to start over, and there were no pleadings for assistance from outside the states. I recognize the larger city's plight, but is not what's good for the many also good for the one? As most, I have made my contribution, but I wonder if they would do the same the next time they see a town ravaged by a tornado or another hurricane in the Gulf? I know many probably contributed to Katrina, but again, why do only the large cities get the outside assistance and the smaller get pushed off to the side to fend for themselves? Again, I don't mean this to sound cruel or harsh. I feel for the suffering. I also feel for it when small towns get crushed. I just wonder how many feel the same, and how many cast it aside since "it's not big enough to matter?" Great Job!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jackie, read my comment to Michele. They are still there. I cannot imagine what it takes to organize what it takes to provide for such massive loss. But I know my state has sent a lot of help and will continue to. And I'm sure others are doing the same. It's all just so big that it's hardly noticeable. It is just so hard to watch it all and feel so helpless. Tonight, when the concert for aid was airing, I called in a donation to the Red Cross. For about 10 minutes, I felt better and then I realized how little I could really do and I was sad all over again. Thanks for caring so much.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric, you are so right. Tragedy does awaken us to good intentions and prayers are answered. In general, people shine when they are needed and they are certainly needed now. Thanks for the beautiful comment.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Michele, there is lots of help but even that will be enough. FEMA is there and doing something. The Red Cross is there and doing something. Trucks left my city today with food and water and clothing but it will not be enough. Utility companies from my state went two days ago but I hear they were sent away because they were not union members. Tonight, musicians did a benefit on one of the major networks. They will raise a lot of money but it will not be enough. Still, people are trying to help and that has to give us hope. Thanks for weighing in. It is so very sad.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    6 years ago from The Beautiful South

    This has been so awful and knowing these people are eating from the trash and where is our government? These people need serious help! It takes time even with everyone giving and many of these people are really starving and freezing and screaming for help. I think this will be followed by other serious disasters and we need to unite to know how to get help of a serious kind in immediately. We know how to help other countries, why not our own? Yes they ran out and helped a few and now they are gone and these people feel deserted.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    The tragedy balanced by human love, compassion, dignity and heroism. The "storm" may take and hurt the physical, but in each one or us it rekindles our need, our disire to love in the physical and in prayer and intentions. For any of us who have been dead inside it awakens us as a resurrection to do good and help others in love. In my world, tragedies are saddening, but responses are enlightening. All of us are real and all of us can say "I send all my good wishes, and all my good intentions to those who need it most"

  • Michele Travis profile image

    Michele Travis 

    6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

    What you wrote was wonderful. I am a loss for words, there is so much going on, but sometimes the media will only look at it for a short time, then move onto the next "big issue" How is the government going to help them. Bush did not help people from hurricane Katrina. What is going to happen to the people who suffered under hurricane Sandy?

    I don't know the answer. Will the government help? I don't think so. It is not the right time. The election is too close, and there is not enough money to help people who have suffered.

    Like I said, I don't know.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dear Bill - although I didn't write it, I think our Katrina experience is driving my angst over Sandy. It's as if we didn't learn very much. I think some things are better in terms of response but some of the problems are different in this one. Look at NY. A population that is largely dependent on public transportation - underground at that. I look at the concentration of people in NY, compared to Katrina. I think of the large elderly population living in NY high-rise apartments with no electricity to run the elevators. How are they to get in and out to get food or water? None of this minimizes Katrina, by any means. It's just different and yet the root cause is the same - an imbalance in our environment. Thank you for reminding us of the horror of Katrina which was also a warning to us. Like you, I am of little faith in government and yet I wonder where those affected by this storm would be without it. I guess it's all about balance, isn't it?

    Thanks for being my voice of reason, logic and balance too.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    yoginjoy - thank you. Thank you for reading and for the confirmation. It is much appreciated.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Beautiful as always! For some reason, Katrina affected me more than this disaster. That in no way says this wasn't horrific, because it was. I'm just talking on a personal, gut level reaction, Katrina gave me nightmares based on the suffering and lack of response by the government. If I rated the government response to Sandy as a 3, the response to Katrina was a zero for sure.

    Anyway, this solution, as you well know, begins with each of us, and then becomes a community effort. My faith in the government is non-existent, but my faith in mankind remains strong.

    Thank you, once again, for being the voice of reason and compassion.


  • yoginijoy profile image


    6 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

    It is so true. We are all one. It is sad though as you say that it takes a tragedy for us to awaken to this truth.

    Keep the help coming!


  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    HI innerspin. Thanks for the visit. I saw a similar story last night of a woman who had lost her home on State Island and found a photograph of her mother. She said it was the only photograph she had of her mother and tat finding it meant eveything to her. It moved me to tears. Thank you for understanding what I was trying to say.

  • innerspin profile image

    Kim Kennedy 

    6 years ago from uk

    When a large scale tragedy hits, it's easy to loose sight of the individual stories. I saw a lady on TV last night who's home was ruined. She was grateful to have found a photograph of her grandson, who had died last year. After that experience, she said, losing her home was nothing.

    We are real people, you're so right. Powerful hub.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Carol, thank you so much for reading. I have enormous compassion for anyone who has survived these horrible storms. Thank God you survived. Life is iffy for sure. But, we have today and the future will be shaped by what we do with it. I really appreciate your comments.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    6 years ago from Arizona

    Thank you for writing this..and we should all reflect on this today. Life is an iffy proposition and we never know the future. We got caught in Charlie in Florida and it was scary..but we survived. Great hub Voting up and sharing.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi picklesandrufus. (giggle) Thanks for visiting again. I really do just feel so helpless. I tried and tried to write about something else today but I can't seem to distract myself from the pain of so many. So, I wrote about it- again.

  • picklesandrufus profile image


    6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

    This is a very good and thoughtful hub. I think you feel like many of us feel, at least I do. Thank you for giving us a lot to think about.


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