Formula for Responding to Tragedy


As we've watched the tragic situation in Afghanistan unfold over the past several days, the natural reaction from many of us has been to find a target for our finger-pointing, to find someone to blame. Bush, Cheney, Obama, Trump, Biden. Surely someone is responsible for the tragedy we're witnessing. For many people, it's not enough just say "it's a complicated and sad situation, how can we help?"


Perhaps some of us are uncomfortable with the emotion of sadness, and are more comfortable with the emotions of anger and outrage, because it somehow feels more like action. Anger uses more of our mental energy; Harvard researchers have found that high-intensity emotions make us physically tired. Because we are using more energy to feel anger, perhaps we feel like we are taking action, accomplishing change.


Perhaps the emotion of sadness feels too much like weakness and vulnerability, while the emotion of anger feels like strength. Our bodies respond to feelings of anger with an increase in adrenaline and elevated heart rate; changes that actually makes us temporarily, physically stronger. When faced with scary and uncertain events, choosing anger allows us to feel like we are on the offense, fighting back.


But feelings are not productive; only action is. This post (and the comment section) has a great list of resources for donating money, helping resettle refugees, and contacting elected officials.


A few more: