Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.

“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” Dalai Lama XIV

When disaster strikes, we feel empathy for those affected. Our hearts go out to those grieving, those who’ve lost their life’s possessions, or worse, loved ones. We do what we can for them. We send donations of money and supplies. Some even volunteer their services, going to where the crisis exists, to help in any way they can.

Disasters bring people together. There is unity in their efforts to bring relief as quickly as possible, to prevent any further suffering. Disasters bring out the best in people. People who’ve never talked to their neighbors before suddenly open their homes and their hearts to complete strangers in need of help.

It’s like poetry in motion to see the caring and devotion of everyone involved, from the highest government officials, the largest corporations, to the single individuals, all acting as one to bring relief to those affected by the disaster.

Feats, which seemed impossible, miraculously happen before our eyes. Supplies, that would normally take weeks or months to collect, appear overnight. Shipments come from halfway around the world, from nations we thought never cared for us.

There are few individual heroes in a disaster. The main hero is the collective will of the people to bring aid to those affected and to prevent any further suffering.

But there are two sides to every disaster.

Those directly impacted by the disaster stand on a precipice ready to fall. All they see before them is hopelessness and despair.

Those directly impacted are never more alone then during this time of crisis. Their pain and suffering is immense. As time goes one, their pain and suffering continues to build, tilting off the precipice, into hopelessness and despair. They begin to question why so much could happen to one person. They question how much loss could a person endure. They ask why did this happen to them. They feel completely alone.

Some have lost all of their possessions. Some have lost items they cared about, that have been handed down from generation to generation. Some have lost their homes and everything in them. Some items can be replaced. Many items can never be replaced.

And then there are those who’ve lost loved ones. The material losses pale compared to this type of loss. What’s left is an emptiness in their hearts. Loneliness begins to creep in, compounding the emptiness in their hearts.

All of them begin tilting off the precipice, towards hopelessness and despair.

But then a miracle begins to happen. Just when it seems that all hope will be lost, a flood of help comes through. Volunteers show up, coming from everywhere, to help people they never met, but who are in need. Aid packages arrive, with supplies that are desperately needed. Rays of hope begin to shine.

Disasters occur throughout history. So long as the whole of humanity can come together, to mobilize, for the aid of those affected, will hope continue to win out. If we use the disaster as a source of strength, no matter how painful the experience becomes, we can overcome anything. It is only when all hope is lost that the real tragedy happens. It’s the actions of the volunteers, of the global community acting as one that continually reminds us to never give up hope.

So long as people still care for one another, so long as they feel empathy for another’s loss, will there always be hope. Never, ever give up, for that, will be the true tragedy.

However, there is one foe in every disaster: Time. Time is of the essence for relief. As time slowly ticks away without any aid, so does hope. Time helps in a tragedy, turning events into memories, but time is an enemy is a disaster. In a disaster, if there is no aid in sight, time slowly turns hope and strength into hopelessness and despair.

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