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Four Spiritual Responses to Disaster

cruisedirector pointed me to a thoughtful essay called "Reacting to the Tsunami" by Sara Yoheved Rigler. Here's the part I found consoling:

It is appropriate to respond to the present Hiroshima-scale disaster by contributing money to aid the relief effort, but physical action should not preclude a spiritual response as well. When you ask yourself, "What can I do?" here are some spiritual responses:

1. Allow yourself to mourn for the tragic loss of life. Do not emotionally distance yourself by burying your heart in the internet news. Feel the pain.

2. Recognize the fragility--and therefore the preciousness--of life. The people on the beaches of southeast Asia that day had no warning that this would be their final hour. Neither will we. Appreciate the preciousness of every hour.

3. Recognize the spiritual effect of every action you do--not just on yourself but on the world. Petty lying, stealing, cheating, gossip, abuse, and exploitation set in motion waves of negativity. When many people engage in such actions, those waves can build up into tidal waves.

4. Change one action. Undertake to do a new mitzvah [good deed, blessing] or eschew one kind of negative behavior. This is a better defensive measure than any early warning system.

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