Responding in Extreme Events

The shootings at Sandy Hook School are so extreme.

December 14 began as a normal workday that was shattered when an armed man forced his way into the locked school building. People had to react in a moment to an event that was something beyond their comprehension.

People at the school acted with extraordinary courage, going directly towards the shooting, doing whatever they could do to protect the children. Confronting a gunman was something beyond their abilities, but protecting children was at the core of their values for the principal, school psychologist, and teachers. They died trying. Their actions could well have been instrumental in stopping the massacre before it went further.

It is impossible to anticipate how one would react in such situations. They move people outside of the bounds of rational planning. You can hope and intend to follow the values closest to your heart in that moment. In addition to developing skills and safeguards to anticipate catastrophes, reflecting on those values is essential to being prepared. Those values are the foundation for resilience.

A small town school does not have the capacity to single-handedly buffer itself from every conceivable form of deadly force from human intent or from freaks of nature.

The bigger picture requires action on a regional or national level to limit the potential for damage. These actions include building solid infrastructure as well as policy initiatives to limit the availability of firearms.

If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

—–Martin Luther King, Jr., (speech; Detroit, Michigan), June 23, 1963

The commandment is that you shall love, but when you understand life and yourself, then it is as if you should not need to be commanded, because to love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without this life you really do not live.

—–Søren Kierkegaard


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