There are many facets to my reaction to such events... beginning with disbelief. It's as if the mind is not ready to accept the fact that such a thing could happen. Every once in a while there are these bolts of disbelief going through the mind saying, "No! This has not happened!" or asking, "Has this really happened...or is this just a bad dream or something?" Even days or weeks after the event I sometimes find myself facing this disbelief. It's as if a part of my mind forgot to walk into the future after such an event.
The worst feeling about such episodes is when there is very little that I can do physically to help. It is sometimes a cause of great frustration to me. Anger, I feel at such times, is futile; although perfectly justified in most cases. All that I can possibly do is hope for the best, pray and send my compassion and good wishes to the person.
Such experiences have always made me think about my own "lifestyle". I strongly believe in the wisdom that everything is connected as Chief Seattle said:
This we know...everything is connected, like the blood that unites a family. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons and daughters or earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web... he does to himself.I feel that solving problems that the whole society faces requires every member to think how he or she is contributing to the problem. We are very quick to blame individuals as the cause of trouble. If not we tend to point the finger towards a group. Hardly ever do we look at ourselves and ask "could it be that something I am doing... or not doing... is contributing to this problem?". I feel it is very important for me to ask this question to myself repeatedly. When I look deeply I find that for every problem that I think of as being "out there"... there are connections leading back to me, my lifestyle or my thinking.
I found myself thinking like this yesterday when I heard that a horrible tragedy had befallen a friend. Once again I realized that there are many ways in which I may be contributing to the problems, which caused great harm to my friend... directly or indirectly as a member of the society. I feel it's my duty to start making my contribution to the solution. I have been reading a lot about Buddhism lately. I feel that Thich Nhat Hanh's 5 mindfulness trainings really capture the essence of this thinking. Each mindfulness training is a reminder: "Don't be a part of the problem... be a part of the solution."
I personally have found that meditating on this thought and trying to be a part of the solution gives me the much needed "outlet" from the whirlpool of emotions that such events stir up in my mind. It cures the frustration a bit and lessens the intensity of the bolts of disbelief. While sincerely hoping and praying for the well being of my friend, I find myself praying also for the strength and wisdom to stop being a part of the problem... and look deeply at the problem... and look deeply at my own life and change the things which I feel could contribute to the problem.
Sending all my good wishes and prayers to my friend today...