An excerpt from my recent Huffington post blog post about how individuals, nations, and religion cope with catastrophe:
“I have seen my share of tragedy in the work I do, I have worked in conflict zones around the world for much of my life, especially in the Middle East. Nothing ever prepares you for the pain and suffering of parents who lose children to senseless warfare, or children bereft of family. No one prepares you for hundreds of Syrians in a desperate refugee camp coming up to you with agony in their eyes combined with respectful smiles, telling all the horror and not understanding a word of what they are saying. Nothing prepares you for the trauma of leaving them behind, pulling yourself from their arms and hands and fingers and mournful eyes, jumping back behind a barbed wire fence. They are traumatized and mourning, but so are you.
What do you say to people in such circumstances? Do you mourn with them? Do you try to comfort them with some rethinking of their situation? Do you dare, when in fact there is often very little you can do for them in the short term? Mourning and comforting mourners in the face of catastrophe is a wrenching challenge to our very humanity.”