How do you think about tragic events?

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It seems fitting that on this Memorial Day we pause to ponder a large, existential question – do things happen for a reason?
Here’s how I think about it: Some things happen for clear reasons, others do not. Sometimes events require that educators for their own peace of mind make a distinction between things that appear to happen for a reason and those that don’t.
Some of the events that that require discernment capture widespread attention. Sandy Hook Elementary School and Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma readily come to mind. Others are more local in nature – the illness or death of a child, the suffering of families, and so on.
Some people, of course, believe everything happens for a reason. I do not happen to be in that group, although at times I wish that I was.
Seth Godin ponders this issue in a blog post he titled, “Does it happen for a reason?”

“Reasons are nearly always the things we make up to explain what happened, not the actual cause of what happened…,” Godin writes. “There are two things to be done with that fact. The first is to identify the few things that do happen for a reason and learn from them, as opposed to ignoring the available lesson… And the second is to take the (essentially) random events and choose to respond (as opposed to an overreaction). The big opportunity is to figure out how to take advantage of the change that was just handed to us, even if it wasn’t for us, about us, or what we were hoping for.”

The challenge, of course, for all of us in both our personal and professional lives is to see events, no matter their cause, as opportunities for learning, growth, and improvement rather than as reasons for resignation and hopelessness.

How do you think about tragedies and other significant events in ways that promote both peace of mind and opportunities for learning and growth?

2 Responses to “How do you think about tragic events?”


  1. 1 Jamie May 27, 2013 at 7:26 am

    I believe that we each have an opportunity to find our own lessons for the tragic events in our lives. As a cancer survivor I became a more caring, sensitive and empathic person. As a Hurricane Sandy survivor I focused on what I had not what I lost. Learning from tragedy is a choice.


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