Unboxed Life

Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.

On Making Tragedy The Soil From Which Understanding Grows


“There’s a saying in Tibet, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of  difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”

-Dalai Lama XIV

For those who have been reading my blog for a while you know that I don’t usually write about current events or otherwise participate in the goings on of our current time. This is by design. I hope that my writing will outlast the current time we live in and can be useful to people who come from any time, not just now. That being said, I felt as though the events of the last week were of a level of significance and sadness that I fell compelled to write about it.

The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is, without question, the greatest and most blatant example of pure evil that our generation has ever seen and maybe in the modern history of our country. I will not belabor the details of the event as we have all become familiar, for better or worse, with the timeline of that fateful day. It defies explanation and frankly any attempt at mining reason from the ruble is doing a disservice to the victims of this event. Instead what I would like to do is to look beyond what happened that day and seek to find something positive from the senseless loss of innocence that occurred.


What happened in that school is a crime against innocence of the highest order and strikes at the very core of what makes us human. The things we hold to be true have been shattered and what sense of peace we felt has been lost. The even more damaging part of these events is that what happened was the destruction of that thing that binds us to one another, the invisible yet very real string that runs through our world. Without it, without the understanding of it, respect for it, and nurturing of it tragedies such as the one in Newtown will only replicate until all is lost.

I truly believe in my heart that from the now shaken and shattered hearts and minds of those in Newtown and people all over the world can come something beautiful and transformational. We know that evil is often done by the hands of those who don’t understand things. Killing, genocide, religious and ethnic conflict, gang violence, corruption. These things happen because we have lost a simple truth. It is the understanding that when we look at another person we are not gazing on something outside of us, but are seeing a reflection of ourselves in which lives a piece of our soul. The one and only thing that can really combat evil such as this is understanding, simple and true.

When we as people find the understanding that comes from love and compassion and the realization that we are not disparate individuals but pieces of a whole it becomes harder and harder to mistreat and harm others in these ways. Politics and gun laws, left-wing or right, conservative or liberal are inconsequential and if you believe those things will solve these problems you are mistaken. The light that will erase this  darkness will come from understanding our relationship to each other and our responsibility to honor that connection, plain and simple.

As is the case with almost every important lesson or opportunity for enlightenment we can look to children to find what we must learn. Below is the simplest yet most profound example of true understanding and unconditional love I think I have ever seen.

These children live in Pakistan and this photo was taken shortly after the shootings in Newtown. “We feel your pain as you would feel our pain.” That is the true definition of love. It is not a complex or complicated idea but one that already resides in each of us. It has only been through perversion of that pure ideal that we have forgotten how to feel it. The smallest among us get it, the poorest among us depend on it, and the greatest among us live by it as law. Simply by seeing the world differently we can spark a change that all the money and  resources in all the world could not do. The fight against violence and evil will be waged in hearts and minds, not with guns or gavels. We can be soldiers of understanding and start with ourselves as we seek to spread this idea to all the world.

When history recalls the events of this past week in Newtown let it not see glorification of those who have chosen to rob so many of the innocence they possessed. Let them not see hatred and anger. Let them look around at what our world has become at the hands of those who choose to understand. Let there be a world not ruled by fear or by violence, but one where compassion and love are commonplace and where the one and only overarching ideal that binds us all is our connection to each other. The future of humanity depends on our choices at crossroads like these. We stand on the precipice of what will be the fate of our world. Let us choose love, peace, and most of all let us find the simple understanding like the children above. Let us make this tragedy the soil from which understanding can grow and cover the whole Earth.

God Bless Newtown.


Pakistan Children Photo: Courtesy NBC News here


2 comments on “On Making Tragedy The Soil From Which Understanding Grows

  1. kolena
    December 19, 2012

    Beautifully written

  2. Mary
    December 21, 2012

    Tanner: I couldn’t agree more! Nothing much will change the world and all the senseless, tragic things that occur from people using their free agency in terrible ways, except changing the hearts and souls of people, until they no longer choose unwisely or want to have anything to do with evil. I like to think the Lord was with those children, sheltering and keeping them from the worst of the pain, and He now has them in His arms.

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This entry was posted on December 19, 2012 by in Life Lessons and tagged , , , , , , , .
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