Being human in a crisis

I got online this morning to find that, in the last 24 hours, a lot of really awful things have happened in a lot of different places. We live in an age where the woes of the world are rapidly available to us. While part of me feels shock and sorrow over what yesterday brought to a lot of people, another part of me knows this is nothing new. These things have always happened, we just didn’t always know about it. Big disasters, be they natural or man-made, can catch us in a number of ways.

Some of us respond by trying to find meaning. Did we anger the gods? Did we damage the balance? What caused it? How can we prevent it, or better mitigate against the next one? Answers and action give back a sense of control. We like having something to blame. If we’re realistic, this can be helpful, if we come up with some lunacy like ‘god is punishing us for gay people’ then we’re going to make things a whole lot worse.

Some of us respond with despair. Life is short, nasty and brutish. Nature red in tooth and claw. Man’s inhumanity to man. It’s all horrible, we’re all horrible, eventually we will all die. Grief is an essential part of our humanity, but if we let it run too far, and too deeply, we become powerless to act, unable to see the good in anything, and that doesn’t help in the slightest.

Some of us respond by trying to help. We donate to good causes. If we’re really keen, we head out for the area of disaster to help deal with the immediate crisis and the rebuild afterwards. We don’t ask why it happened, we just get on with sorting it out, and in the short term this is often a good response, but if we don’t stop to ask the awkward, uncomfortable questions at some point, things that could have been changed go unchallenged.

Some of us enjoy it. Perhaps because of the challenge, or the drama, or we find it exciting. Perhaps it validates a personal belief or we enjoy the suffering of others.

Some of us go numb, we tune it out, we refuse to feel, to know or to care. It’s not our problem, not our responsibility, we don’t want to know. We think we’re protecting ourselves by not caring, but there is a cost to hardening your heart and looking the other way.

The meanings we ascribe to events, and the choices we make may not have the power to radically change what’s happening out there. What they do is inform our own lives, and shape who we are, and what we do. World events are nothing more than the combined effect of many lives. Each small part may seem irrelevant when viewed alone, but what we do collectively has huge impact.

We can respond with blame, rage, violence. We can respond with apathy and inaction. We can try to help. In the long term we can think about why things happen as they do, and we can think about how to change things. We have those options.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Being human in a crisis

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I don’t react like most people to terrorism, even like what happened i France. I feel sadness of course for the suffering but no outrage and this outrages some people on line. But then I pay attention to things others do not choose to pay attention to.

    What do the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and IS have i coo. first they are all Shia Muslims, and second, the United States CIA, and the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, created, financed, and armed all three groups. We are still supplying Al Qaeda in Syria our friendly allies, and we are still supplying IS with weapons, and Toyota pickup trucks, though we try to make it appear to be accidental. None of this is really secret. All of it has been exposed in even regular media at various times if you get past the sports pages, the sex scandals of Famous people ad the show of posturing my our government puppets paid for by our huge Corporations.

    Remember in all of our Countries, foreign policy is based on what is best for our giant corporations. It always has been since corporations have existed. What is the most profitable business of all for our Corporations but war, particuarlary wars that are never won and endlessly continue. The War on Terror is of course the most successful money maker since the USA created the Vietnam War, with corporations like Standard Oil and the Rockefeller family financing Ho Chi Min and the rest making money our supplying our various armies.

    The terrorist groups are basically two kinds Shia Muslim groups, and Shiite Muslim groups. Basically the whole of the terrorist wars are a proxy war between us and Saudi Arabia supporting Shia groups like the Taliban, Al Qaeda and now IS. Confusing because allegedly we are fighting them. However please note how poorly we are in our fight against them. The rest of the terrorist groups are supported by Iran.

    Add that to the people we have killed in all the wars we fight in that part of the war and about twenty other wars that the US is involved in Africa, South America and the the Philippines. So between our wars, and our terrorist’s war we have already killed millions of even just civilians people. We are quite willing to sacrifice our own people, as well as our troops, even as we did in Vietnam. Ah but how the profits roll in. Remember the American military spends 57% of the America Government budget.

    Now having said this, I expect a great number of people will be outraged by me.

    • Nimue Brown

      I’ve been thinking in similar ways, only without as much information to go on. thank you for sharing this.

      • Christopher Blackwell

        My interest in Railroads led me back in high School over fifty years go to study railroad history books in the high school library and that introduced me to the world of government and business cooperation for business men and politicians mutual benefit. Almost every railroad in my country got some government financing, miles of free land with timber, mineral and water rights. In return railroads paid off politicians to get it, gave away free stock and free passes to use the trains to those that proved helpful. That wetted my interest in business and political history of my country, and also a study of what were rightly called Robber Barons of industry. Real history, including the dark side of it, is far ore fascinating than the dull Pablum they teach in school, which is little more than propaganda to justify the country that exists today, but neglects to show how the mess was created, and how the problems got started.

        History is a story of the people who are telling it, but history is also the stories that they don’t choose to tell. Often what story they don’t tell is more fascinating than the story they choose to tell. If we treated as a story and told the parts that they do not tell, we would have a hard time getting kids out from reading history. They would be constantly exclaiming, “My god, look what they got away with back then!” But then that is why school texts make history sound so dull so that students can’t wait to get away from it as being boring.

        I am just as fascinated by history now, as I was then, but just a lot more different kinds of history.

  • lornasmithers

    It’s so difficult to know how to respond isn’t it? In this I feel very torn. A part of me wants to bury my head in the sand and another to reach out. Another knows I can’t fight every battle in the world and another knows if I despair the bastards will have won…

  • Leeby Geeby

    I’m glad to see someone else exploring these issues too. Yes, you are right on the mark when you say that these kinds of disasters have sort of always been around, but these days we are receiving a disproportionate amount of attention to them because in a globalist disaster capitalism economy fear sells. There is an old saying coined by mass media newscasters: “If it bleeds, it leads.” There is also a disproportionate amount of attention paid to things that happen in developed countries and the corporate and political interests that dominate those developed countries. The headlines are not an accurate picture of reality. That’s why seeking a number of alternative news-media resources on any given topic is essential. There are an extraordinary amount of positive news resources springing up on the web and studies are showing a growing trend towards sharing more positive news stories over and above negative ones. People are waking up to the kind of disproportionate negative polarization that major news networks have on their consciousness, they are tired of the bullshit and are expressing other choices.

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