Tag Archives: tragedy

In Memoriam…

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by Arsenio Rodriguez

These incredible arms that we are endowed with can move at will, to gesture praise or curse, to caress and strangle, to protect and destroy. These thoughts, feelings and speech that I carry, can arrange to communicate humbly and generate laughter, consolation, forgiveness, or in self-aggrandizement and ignorance, stimulate fear, violence, prejudice.

Thoughts and feelings, that in a secret whisper can poison the other through calumny and generalization, and fueled by my darkest fears, can align with the fears of others to give rise to a wave of hatred and animosity, however those same thoughts and feelings, when attuned to that inner voice that once said “let he who has no sins cast the first stone” they can shower instead, compassion, and the gift of forgiveness. This fascinating mind of ours! It has blessed us with technology, to heal and prolong life, to alleviate suffering, to look beyond our senses and magnify our awe, at the cosmic miracle of universe and life. But it also has given us the tools of mass destruction, the capacity to magnify the power of our strangling and sword carrying hands, to shower death in an instant, not just to a fighting face-to-face adversary, but to dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of our fellow living beings.

From the mass graves of Eastern Europe, the ovens of Germany, the fields of Rwanda, the prairies of western United States, the coliseums of Rome, the squares of Tienanmen, the slave trade of Africa, the religious wars of India, the crusades, the Armenian purge, the conquest of America, the “collateral damages”, the rape of Nanjing, the burnt flesh of Hiroshima, to the dance halls of Orlando, massacres have occurred all the time, as we know from recorded and not recorded history, perpetrated by governments, tribes, religions, ethnic groups, individuals, all who have become possessed by the fear inside, disguised as hatred for the demonized others. We have shed the blood of others so many times. Continue reading

“The Only American Off the Planet”: Remembering 9/11

Today marks the tragic anniversary of the terrorist attacks that saw the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City, the damage of the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. and the loss of four planes filled with American civilians. Even 14 years later, we grieve the unnecessary loss of so many.

In memory, Nasa shared this image taken by a satellite over the city shortly after the event:

911

 

At the same time, American astronaut Frank Culbertson was watching from the International Space Station. A letter he penned that day said,

“It’s difficult to describe how it feels to be the only American completely off the planet at a time such as this. The feeling that I should be there with all of you, dealing with this, helping in some way, is overwhelming. I know that we are on the threshold (or beyond) of a terrible shift in the history of the world. Many things will never be the same again after September 11, 2001.”

Continue reading

Deepak Chopra: What Can We Do About Gun Violence?

image1.adapt.924.high.1379353105931Our hearts go out to the many affected by this morning’s tragic shooting at the US Navy Yard in Washington DC. Twelve people are reported dead – 11 victims and one shooter – with many others injured and in critical condition. Two other suspected shooters are still on the run.

Hundreds, even thousands, of other people – friends, spouses, siblings, colleagues, and peers of those killed and wounded – are also affected by the tragedy, as well as all of us around the country left wondering once again: Why the violence? Why the killing?

It is essential now that we treat the wounded, soothe the traumatized, and help the healing process of those who lost a loved one. We mourn together in times like these.

This is also a moment, though, in which some might revive conversations about gun violence and gun control, topics we are all too familiar with and yet which continue popping up after every incident of violence. Deepak Chopra weighs in on the debate in this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well. We invite you to watch the video and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

The days to come will hold grief, mourning, and the beginning of a healing process to which we add all our love and support. Please add your thoughts and messages of support in the comments section below.

Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A New Yorker’s Heart-wrenching Poem for September 11

Flower at September 11 MemorialOn 9/11/11, after news of the attacks surfaced, Mike Rosen didn’t know if his father would be coming home that day. In his child’s mind, all he knew was: he lived in New York; his dad worked in New York; thousands had been killed in a terrorist attack; his dad could be one of them.

Thankfully, he wasn’t. But thousands of other little boys and girls would not be as lucky. In this heart-wrenching slam poem, Rosen discusses his impressions of that day as a young boy, the collective pain that followed, and the remarkable character of New York City so highlighted in the aftermath of the attacks. This was not about “our god” or “their god,” he says, because in times like this we are all one, and the work to heal is collectively ours.

“That day no one in New York grabbed rifles, we grabbed bandanas and shovels and we started digging because our lives were underneath that rubble.”

Check it out:

Today is a solemn day for many. For those of us who are old enough to remember the events, we think back on where we were, what we were doing, how we felt when the news reached our awareness. But in addition to the pain, we may also feel a deep gratitude and compassion for the collective spirit that rose up, in New York and around the country, to affect the healing so desperately needed.

We bless the lives that were lost, those who survived, and all touched by September 11 and its aftereffects. We invite you to share your stories below.

Radical Responsibility

radical-responsibility

 

“Why would God allow this to happen?”

I heard this questions, in many forms, in many variations many, many times. At last I responded. This time it was about a five-year old girl who was raped with an iron rod and died. Why would God allow this to happen?

“Maybe because God considers humans to be responsible adults who don’t need supervision, but can make their own choices, design their own lives and create their own reality” I responded “maybe because God acknowledges their freedom to do so. Humans are free to choose, some choose pain, others don’t — all create their experience of life with their choices.”

And the inevitable response came:

“But the 5 year old little girl didn’t choose all of this for herself. What does God have to say about that?”

 And … and it gave me pause. It gave me pause not because I didn’t have an answer to that – I have an answer and it is a good one — but because I was not sure my answer would be an acceptable one. I was not sure it would be a hand-able one.

I said:

“God might say: you choose your own faith, you create your destiny and your life in ways you don’t yet understand. You chose where and how you will be born and you choose how, and when, you die. Your life is called ‘your life’ not ‘God’s life’ for a reason. That you are not aware of choosing and creating doesn’t mean you don’t choose and create.”

Is that too much? Is it too much to say? Is it too much to expect from a five year old, from a fifteen year old, from a fifty year old?

But, you see, God just might see humans differently than humans do. God just might know the unlimited power humans wield and with which they create their reality, their world, their life. God might know that there is no limit to what humans can do, to what they can be. God might know that the human world looks and works like it does because humans say so, believe so, relate so.

God might know, at last, that it is nothing more than an outward projection of humans themselves. A name, a concept to which humans assign that which they, themselves, truly are — the ultimate, unlimited creators.

All humans, even those who are five years old.

Is this too much?

Tornadoes, Bombings, and Kidnappings – How Tragedies Activate Our Higher Selves (Part 2)

PrayClick here for part 1.

Author Seth Godin shares that, in today’s world, big change doesn’t happen top-down – by governments or companies deciding what to do. Big or epic change happens from the ground up. It happens as thousands of people decide how they want something to be and then go do it. We can influence this string of tragedies between people by a creating a groundswell of respect and appreciation by people who recommit to seeing the good in others, valuing others and using their unique abilities to see and solve today’s challenges.

Tragedies get our attention. Tragedies interrupt our daily flow – they demand us to step into larger and more responsible roles. When life is fine – we are less intentional in our approach – almost going through life in autopilot. In these moments, we are less focused on how we can connect with each other more significantly or find ways to live more safely on the planet. But when something unusual – painful and tragic – happens, we dig deeper, find resources within ourselves and work more significantly with others to give, improve, support, and care. We are more responsive and more compassionate.

Eckhart Tolle shares in his book A New Earth, “As unhappiness increases, it also causes an increasing disruption in your life.” And when the pain is great, we change. When tragedies strike, we are shaken out of our normal, self-centered worlds and have a glimpse of our greater humanity, greater suffering, and greater need. In this moment, we connect to what is best in us and we solve, invent, work together, and let petty differences disappear. Remember the unity we felt after the Boston Marathon bombings, 911, the Oklahoma tornadoes and hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The planet and people are the greatest sources of our tragedies. We can’t do much about the planet other than to understand it and use our collective genius to work together to learn how to live safely on it. We can however, learn to be more focused on each other’s greatness as the way to discuss our differences instead of attack, to work through problems instead of shooting or bombing, and to consider that every life is as valuable and important as every other life, regardless of faith, career, social status, or ethnicity. We are each born awesome; when we each are able to know ourselves and know our world, we can then unite to connect the best of ourselves to address today’s needs, challenges, and opportunities. Our problems and our solutions are in our humanity.

As my mother used to say to my five siblings and me when we complained about some physical attribute we inherited from our family that we didn’t like (long arms, unruly hair, Italian nose), “Look deeper. You have enough of the right stuff to make a profound difference in this world. You have what others need in the way of ideas, intellect, compassion and awareness to invent what needs to be invented and to learn to see the divine abilities in every other person.”

What if each of us learned to respond in “tragedy-mode” even when there were no tragedies? What if we cared more for others to help them reach their potential and soar in life instead of taking them down? What if we used our amazing intellectual abilities and wisdom to develop ways to keep people around the planet safe, regardless of what the planet was doing in its life cycle, then hurry to respond if something larger than our solutions happens?

Tragedies have the ability to help us discover and live what is best in us. The better question is why must we wait for a tragedy to access our more expansive, wise, and compassionate selves? If they are present in tragedy, then they are also present in happier and less dangerous times. All we need to do is to call on them.

So, maybe tragedies occur to remind us that we have greater power and influence over the outcomes of things than we think. That perhaps tragedies exist to show us that we have what we need to proactively stop future tragedies from happening. It is our choice to show up each day respecting and caring about others, and understanding our world to know how to live in it safely and wisely. And when the unavoidable humanity and planet collisions occur, that we quickly, wisely and compassionately respond.

Tornadoes, Bombings, and Kidnappings – Making Sense Out of Tragedies (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 3.58.18 PMIn what seems to be a period of an unprecedented amount of tragedies, we ask what is happening with our planet and with the people in our world? Tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and super storms; bombings, kidnapping, civil wars, battles over land and beliefs, and centuries’ old sectarian violence is all we hear about. Today’s news seems to report crisis after catastrophe after calamity. Why do these tragedies happen and what sense can we make out of them?

What if tragedies were the interruption in our lives to get us out of our mindless approach to our days – to be “shocked” into being greater, more compassionate, more creative, and wiser? What if the reason for tragedies were to force us to learn to reconnect with others as each important and valuable, and to use our collective genius to learn how to live better and more safely on our changing planet?

In a closer review, it seems this string of tragedies is centered on two areas – our planet and our humanity. Perhaps by looking at each, we can start to make sense of why these events happen and determine if there is anything we can do about them. Let’s start with a look at the planet.

Our planet is alive. It is constantly shifting, growing, and regenerating. Earthquakes are the natural process of the collision of shifting tectonic plates and the bringing up of new materials from deep in the earth to feed the surface. Hurricanes are the natural reaction of changes in our atmosphere whose winds clean and reconfigure the face of the land. Their rains replenish all life forms throughout all ecological systems. Violent tornadoes are the intersection of cold and warm fronts, influenced by topography and geography.

My personal perspective is there is no intentionality or malice in these events; these are not curses or punishments. They, instead, are the natural cycle of life of our living and changing planet. These events have existed on our planet long before mankind inhabited this blue and green ball. As we live along fault lines, in areas lower than sea level, along riverbanks, on flat windy plains, and along the coasts, we put ourselves in nature’s way. Nature does what it does to sustain itself, regardless of where we live, shop, attend school, or work. Though beautiful, nature can also be violent. Tragedies happen when these planet life-events collide with where humans live and work. But the solution to living in a vibrant and thriving planet is directly connected to the second focus in this discussion of tragedy – people.

In addition to our collision with our planet, we are also in collision with people. Wars, conflicts, bombings, genocide, kidnapping, assaults, and rapes happen because we are colliding with cultures, values, beliefs, and traditions. In these collisions, we have forgotten that each of us is intrinsically great, special, unique, and divinely created. In conflict, we do not consider others as equally important, valuable, or as great as ourselves. We lose the understanding that we are a collection of people – all uniquely gifted and capable of not only solving the issues we have with each other to eliminate personal tragedies, but by using our intellect and gifts to discover how to live on our evolving planet.

I am reminded of the message in the Hindu greeting Namaste – “may the divine in me acknowledge the divine in you.” Science, religion, and philosophy rarely agree. But they do agree on this one thing – there is an element of greatness or divinity in each of us, evidenced by the uniqueness of our talents, strengths and passions. Reconsidering this inherent value in everyone and living with the respect and appreciation for the true greatness in others, not only can reduce the collision of people, but can be used to resolve the collisions of people with the planet.

Stay tuned for part 2!

10 Terrifying Photos of the Oklahoma City Tornado

A massive tornado ripped through Oklahoma City this afternoon leaving much damage and probably many injured in its wake. According to CNN, the tornado is estimated to have been nearly 2 miles wide, and more than 171,000 people may have been in its path, including at least one elementary school. Unfortunately the primary medical center in the area was also damaged and evacuated, which means that the injured will need to be transported to other nearby hospitals.

Today’s tornado isn’t even a stand-alone event, though. All weekend large swaths of Oklahoma were hit by devastating storms that left at least several people dead, 300 homes damaged or destroyed, and entire towns leveled. Hopefully the worst of the storm is over, though it is often the aftermath, as these shocking photographs suggest, that can be even more devastating.

Our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragic display of nature. Please use this space to leave your thoughts, stories, and prayers. Stay safe!

 

Photos sourced from Buzzfeed

Why Last Monday Changed My Life: A Boston Marathon Mom’s Story

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By Christine Cronin

Monday started as a happy, exciting day. The day had arrived, a day we had been waiting for, for months. We would see our son Ryan cross the finish line of the famed Boston Marathon. After hours, months, miles and the soreness and tiredness of training, this was IT! We were texting with him as he made his way by bus to the starting line in Hopkington; he was feeling good; this was going to be a glorious day.

Boarding the train in Beverly with our daughter, we were glad to see so many enthusiastic people off to see the race or going to the Red Sox game. The train was packed, everyone was jovial and exchanging banter with each other and the conductor. This was off to a great start!

At North Station, we decided to walk toward Boylston Street. The weather was beautiful, and we just followed the crowd heading in the same direction. Walking through the park, we paused to soak it all in. We had decided to settle in as close to the finish line as possible. Shannon, who is a photographer, had packed her best equipment, and we were hoping to get as many great shots of Ryan, and his running team mate Paul, as possible. It was getting really busy, and people were already five or six deep as the first wheelchair athletes were coming down the street. Everyone was cheering them on and we happily joined in. We found a great spot on the right side of the Marathon Sports Store, against the wall next to LensCrafters. It was a perfect spot! We could see the runners, yet we were not in the thick of the crowd. We knew we had quite a few hours until Ryan would be there, so we settled in, chatting with the people in the Marathon Store enclosure, which was reserved for their employees and guests. I was envious of their wooden benches and thought how great it would be if we could climb on one of them when Ryan came through to get a better view. Maybe I will ask them, I thought…

The elite runners came through, and the rest of the pack was starting to cross the line in earnest. We were tracking Paul and our son and knew that they should be arriving roughly between 2.45 and 3pm. We had been standing there for more than two and a half hours, eating the lunch we had brought and cheering on with the crowd, when Shannon asked if we wanted to go with her to the Nike store around the corner. My husband was not particularly interested and wanted to stay put. The two of us started to leave when I turned back and reasoned that we should all have a coffee, find a bathroom, and be ready to follow Ryan as soon as he crossed the line. And we did just that, going to the Starbucks on Newbury street. Walking back, we decided to take a right down Boylston instead of going back where we were, as the crowd was a little less dense and we hoped for a spot at the barrier. Within a few minutes, we spotted Paul coming down the street. I was cheering and capturing the moment on my phone for him. I knew that Ryan was right behind!

The next 60 seconds changed all of our lives.

The loud explosion left us stunned and wondering what could possibly have happened. Brendan thought the Jumbo-tron had exploded, maybe some massive electrical malfunction had occurred. It sounded like a reasonable explanation, except the smoke was a little ways past the large screen and it just did not seem likely. Before we could have another thought about it, the second blast ripped through the air on our right, making the ground shake and fear took a grip on our hearts.

What came next is better left untold. Cameras were rolling and captured the mayhem for the world to see, and the images that are imprinted on my brain are better left alone, to hopefully fade as time goes on. Shock set in, as well as a deep visceral need to find my son, see him and touch him, to know that he was unharmed. He managed to call us about 15 minutes later on a borrowed cell phone, as we were trying to make our way towards the Marriott Hotel, where we eventually reunited as a family over 2 hours later. He had been stopped at the 25.8 mile mark.

The last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions, the very high highs of knowing we are all safe and the very low lows of knowing so many are not. The feelings of disbelief, looking at the pictures and the reality of what took place where we had been standing just a few minutes before the blast. The immense gratitude and thankfulness, but the “why them and not me” questions that keep coming. The lack of control over the emotions, and the surprise crying fits that still come on at random times, the amazing support that friends, colleagues, neighbors or perfect strangers have shown to us.

The Day AfterAs a family, we have resolved to deal with this by being open, by sharing our feelings with each other and by practicing love and not hate. There is always a lesson in everything that happens, and the real tragedy would be to move on and not acknowledge that collectively, as a society, we need to change. The capture of the suspect last Friday brought some closure, but with it came more heartache, other victims, and the realization that this was not a nightmare, the horror had a face and it was a 19 year old…two years younger than my own son.

As a holistic practitioner, I help my clients deal daily with many different issues, stress being one of them. This past week has brought me to a place I had never been before, having to use all of the tools at my disposal to just get through the day. It has been humbling and an incredible learning experience, one that cannot be learned in a book.

My wish today is that we try to remember to be kind and gentle with ourselves and others, that words do hurt and that the spirit that made strangers reach out and help others is a sign of what we are capable of, even when there is no crisis looming. Hopefully the images will fade to allow sleep to be peaceful once again, but the memory of this day will not. The victims will need support for years to come, long after their story will fade from page one in the newspaper and collectively, we can step up to the plate and help them in a million different ways. We can take care of each other, and we need to take care of them, in a small or a big way, everyone can do something.

We cannot heal until we can have peace in our hearts. From today on, I choose to focus on good, healing, healthy, and peaceful thoughts for myself, my family, my community at large and I hope you can do the same.

Namaste.

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My name is Christine Cronin, and I am the owner and founder of Satya Wellness. In Sanskrit, Satya means the truth and I pledge to always tell my clients the truth.

I was born and reared in a small ski resort in Switzerland with a community that valued natural and healthy foods. I later moved to South East Asia with my husband where I became interested in natural health and the many properties of local herbs and foods.We lived in Bangkok, Macau and Singapore where my daughter was born.

I have been helping people achieve great health through good nutrition and healthy lifestyles for many years. I am certified by the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, CA, as an Ayurvedic Instructor in Perfect Health, and I hold a PhD in Natural Health from Kingdom College of Natural Health.

Additionally, I hold an education degree conferred by Ecole Normale de Lausanne, Switzerland,  I am a certified personal trainer, a member of the International Association of Wellness Professionals and of the National Center for Homeopathy.

I live on Boston’s North Shore with my husband and my dog, Sparkie. Our children live nearby:  our daughter Shannon who is a wedding photographer and our son, Ryan who will graduate in May 2013 with a degree in Hotel Management and loves to run!

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