“Tragedy, Self-Awareness, and Empathy”

Shocking losses can cripple us in many ways.  In the moment of the tragedy, for example, it can be almost impossible to think clearly.  So, in those moments, we often say things that don’t quite come out in the best ways.  That struggle is not only common, it’s one of countless reminders that we need a God who can rule over what we cannot control and to transform us at the heart-level.


The following are some of Scripture’s passages on the fact that our words come from our heart.  Consider and discuss some of these truths in light of the article for this week.

  • “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”   (Proverbs 15:28)
  • “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…” (Matthew 15:18)
  • “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
  •  “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-28)


Marine Corps KC-130 crashes in Mississippi, 16 dead

“Tragedy, Self-Awareness, and Empathy”, by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (11 July 2017)


Tragedy is not a surprise to most who serve in the Armed Services…tragedy in combat, that is. It’s much more difficult to deal with death on our own soil during a ‘normal’ duty day. CNN affiliate WDBD reported that “The KC-130, an aircraft that the Marines can use to refuel planes in the air as well as carry cargo, crashed in Leflore County at about 4 p.m. CT, the service said. Federal Aviation Administration officials contacted the Marines when the aircraft disappeared from air traffic control radar over Mississippi, officials said. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, the Marines said. The plane went down just off US 82, about 85 miles north of Jackson, with debris found on both sides of the highway.” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/10/us/mississippi-plane-crash/index.html)

When I first heard this news, I was deeply sad but angry, too. I feel some of the pain those Marines’ families and friends feel, as I’ve lost fellow Soldiers in similar situations: helicopter crashes, a tire that exploded in a maintenance cage, multiple car and motorcycle wrecks, heart attacks during physical training, and more. They were dedicated people trying to do the right thing, and then they were gone.

’m still struggling with anger because of how I learned of the tragedy on the radio this morning. The DJ followed the news with seamless, upbeat and extended comments of sunshine all day. Sunshine?

Not for everyone.

Yes, we understand that reporters are paid to lead with the headlines. Then they have other specific topics to cover; they have limited airtime; and they are often reading a teleprompter. We get it. But timing and tone can send another message: “I don’t want to dwell on this, and neither should you.”

In my studies for counseling, one theme in advanced cultures continues to be our struggle to process loss, specifically in self-awareness and empathy. Our world is so prosperous that we are ill-equipped for anything less. We know how to celebrate our successes, preach ‘no fear’ in the face of hardship, and rage against those who try to take what we have. But we don’t know how to weep openly or to just sit in silence with someone else who is hurting. It’s easier to focus on almost anything else.

There are at least two reasons that we must learn to process loss. First, we suffer losses every day: small failures or short comes, missed connections with loved ones, overwhelming fatigue, and more. Second, those very moments are the best opportunities to express and experience genuine love.

Anyone can celebrate sunshine. Only friends walk or sit together in pain, when there are no words for immediate comfort. Don’t miss those times. In retrospect, we may be lights in that darkness


If you’d like to read other articles from this series on current events, you can click here.

gray line bigger

If you’d like to know more about who publishes the articles, videos, and other materials on tools4trenches, you can click on the picture of me and my wife.


This entry was posted in Topic Tuesdays. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s