Candlelit vigil for Sri Lanka: How can we come to terms with the tragic loss of life?
Photo by Vincent Chan on Unsplash

Sri Lanka: Coming To Terms With The Tragic Loss Of Life

I have been searching, as many people have, for meaning and comfort in the wake of the horrific Sri Lanka Easter bombings. Struggling to comprehend the depth of heartache, I googled ‘tragedy’ in the hope of comfort.

Arthur C Clarke said,

The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijaking of morality by religion.

Small comfort but true. Nicola Sturgeon on the other hand, has tweeted,

Sri Lanka remains in the thoughts of the world today…A loss of life on such a scale is beyond awful and attacks on places of worship must be condemned by all.

Like, attacks on houses would be less terrible but a place of worship is a no go! She wants Muslims and Christians alike to condemn the violence but isn’t religion blinding. It makes people take sides and this is a seemingly endless cycle of violence. There are no sides. Murder is bad no matter where it’s committed.

Should I Keep Reading Or Turn Away?

I can’t turn away and get on with my day when people are searching the streets for their children. One father who took his wife and children on holiday is returning to the UK alone. It’s beyond my comprehension.

Stalin is often quoted as saying,

A single death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.

The second major tragedy here is not just the loss of life but the fact that we are getting so used to it.

I started to read the stories of those who died in order to find connection and some sort of meaning. But then I stopped because I could feel myself sinking into despair. I suppose I wanted to share their grief but rather than alleviating suffering from anyone else I am just expanding a black hole of hopelessness.

A Buddhist Message Of Comfort

The Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh, said,

The reason we are foolish enough to make ourselves suffer and make the other person suffer is that we forget that we are impermanent.

In a split second your whole life could change beyond all recognition. The people of Sri Lanka know this better than most, not just in the recent attacks but over years of violence. In a world where there is so much real loss, conflict and pain we must focus on each other.

We can’t all fly out to Colombo but we can reach the people who are around us now.

Reach Outside Of Your Comfort Zone And Connect With Others

We all need to reach beyond our bubbles. The social bubbles we move within, the news bubbles we gather our political opinions from, our socio-economic and religious bubbles. Be kind to people we don’t know. Spread kindness instead of mistrust or apathy.

Volunteer. Call old friends. Read a different news source. The tribal comfort zones we are mostly guilty of staying in are replicated across the globe and they seem to be causing a tonne of extremism. Don’t think that you are immune. As Ghandi said,

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.

What Can You Do To Help The Victims Of The Sri Lanka Attack?

Read about the people who lost their lives in Sri Lanka. Maybe right now it’s too tough but in doing so we acknowledge their lives. It felt healing to do this when I visited the 9/11 memorial museum in New York. Nearly 2 decades on and this still held a great deal of power.

Donate to the Sri Lankan Red Cross. https://slredcross.give.asia/ They need money now for blood donor coordination, ongoing rescue and survivor support.

Be kind, warm and open. To each other but also to yourself. It might ease the grief that we all share.

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