Helpful Responses to Tragedy

I woke up this morning to find every news channel (include the Weather Channel) discussing the earthquake in Japan and the tsunamis spreading across the Pacific in its aftermath.  As with so many tragedies like this, I find myself completely at a lose of words about what to say in response; there honestly doesn’t seem to be anything TO say.

On the other hand, there is quite a lot that can be DONE.  When tragedy strikes, as it inevitably will at one point or another, there are plenty of things that you can do to help those affected by the tragedy, whether it is a natural or human-caused event.  A short list of ways you can help includes:

Giving Time: Possibly the best way to help in the aftermath of a disaster is to provide your services and personal help in some way.  From going to the site of the tragedy and helping to provide food, medicine, and other vital services to coordinating the efforts of other volunteers, there is a nearly endless list of tasks that need to be accomplished in the face of even a ‘small’ disaster.  If you have the skills that are needed and the ability to put them to use, you will undoubtedly be able to make a big difference in people’s lives, right when they need it the most.

-Giving Money: Not everyone has the combination of time and proximity to a tragedy to personally go and help those who are affected.  If you find yourself in that situation, then giving money to organizations that provide relief in the face of disasters helps to ensure that they will be better able to help those in need after the disaster.    There are plenty of organizations that provide services to those struck by tragedies, including:

And an impressive list of others.  With a little bit of searching, you should be able to find a charity organization (or more than one) that provides the sort of relief and  charity that you want to support.  (Note: Be cautious when selecting a charity, particularly one you find online; alas, there are plenty of con artists out there who are more than happy to use your instincts to help others as a means of stealing your money.  Be sure to check out any charities to which you intend to donate (I recall a nice article on verifying charities that provides some nice resources to do just that) and only give personal information to charities that you trust.)

Spread the Word: Perhaps as important as contributing to charity yourself, and potentially able to have an even wider impact, you can spread the word about your favorite charities.  By writing, blogging, or simply talking about the charities that you support, you can potentially increase the number of supporters for the charities you favor.  At the very least, you could cause your friends, coworkers, and relations to consider their own charitable activities, and potentially increase (or start) what they donate; even if it’s not to a charity you’d personally support, more money going to charities is always good.

-Keep It Up: With enough time, eventually every tragedy fades into memory.  Wounds heal, fallen buildings are rebuilt, and memories gradually fade.  Eventually, everyone who experienced a tragic event pass on.  This is simply the way of the world; today’s tragedy becomes tomorrow’s historical footnote.

This does not mean, however, that you should stop donating once the tragedy has passed.  Just because the immediate need declines, doesn’t mean that your chosen charity’s needs will drop.  Keeping up your donations will allow them to build up their resources and be more prepared for the next tragedy.  Similarly, keeping up your associations and helping as much as you can will help ensure that it doesn’t take another large tragedy to get the needed human power.

There you have it, several methods to help make some good come from even the worst tragedy.  Now, if you’ll excuse, I need to go and put some of them into practice. Please, consider doing so yourself.

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