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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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