How do you respond to tragedy in the news?
Photo by Ben White

How do you respond to tragedy in the news?

Today, I heard that there were three explosions at the Boston Marathon. I was shocked to hear this and was also concerned that my Aunt Vicky, who lives twenty minutes away, might have been injured. Thank goodness, she’s fine.

How can something like this happen? I ask myself this question whenever I hear about tragic stories, especially terrorist attacks. Like most highly sensitive people, I can’t relate to the idea that someone would purposely want to hurt someone else. That kind of hate simply doesn’t resonate with me.

At the time of this writing, it’s still undetermined who carried out the attack, but it’s clearly an incident where someone or some organization wanted to harm others. The authorities are taking precautions in other parts of the country, including high profile areas, such as New York City.

Whenever something like this happens, September 11, 2001, comes to mind. I live about an hour away from the World Trade Center. I was horrified to see the violent attacks on that awful day. Like most people, I was glued to the news for days. I couldn’t seem to stop myself from seeing the planes hit the buildings over and over. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t look away. The graphic images of fire, death, and destruction stayed with me for a long time. Others were able to move on quicker than I could. As a highly sensitive person, it’s especially hard for me to witness tragedy or violence.

When I get into this fearful mindset, it helps to shift my focus. I remind myself that the world is filled with good people. I remind myself that human beings are deeply resilient. I remind myself that we’ve evolved to keep ourselves safe.

I’m confident that whoever bombed the Boston Marathon will be brought to justice. The United States will overcome this. Security at these events will improve. It’s very important to step away from your fear and think rationally, even if only for a moment, especially in the midst of a terrible situation.

I also know that tragedies often bring out the very best in people. Mr. Rogers learned this at an early age from his mother and taught it to others. I always loved this quote from him:

“When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

If I follow this wise advice and look for the helpers, I know that I’ll feel at least a little bit better. If I find that there’s something that I can do, big or small, to become one of the helpers, that good feeling will grow even more!

How do you cope with tragedy in the news? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

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