Extreme bad times give birth to silver linings. Disasters and tragedy can bring out the best in people. Right now we think of those in Oklahoma who are suffering with the ugly effects of tornadoes. They need to see beyond their present circumstances and know that there will be a silver lining, or they might give up hope. It makes those of us who are not touched by those tragedies to give gratefully to help those in need.
People in tragic times:
- draw together to help each other,
- demonstrate supernatural strength
- alter the world – moving, building anew, seek solutions to prevent the same problems from recurring.
- develop empathy
- develop personal flexibility and resilience
- break down cultural barriers
The bigger the tragedy, the shinier the silver lining needs to be. I’m not sure it always makes up for the tragedy, but people go on. The choice is either you go on or you don’t. The choice is yours. I am reading non-fiction book, The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan, about the people who stayed in the Dust Bowl states when over 300,000 fled to California alone. According to him, the high plains never fully recovered, although much of it being returned to its original grass covering. Farmers now have connected with soil conservation districts to manage the land as a single ecological unit. Some of the individuals he followed lived to be around 100 years old.
The biggest tragedy I can think of was the Holocaust. Had I been born in Nazi Germany at that time, I would not have survived it even though I was a blond, blue-eyed, non-Jewish child because I was born with a harelip.
There were many that were targeted for destruction during that period of history. The most tragic of the tragic were the Jews who were destroyed simply because they were Jews. My friend was four years old when they came to her little town in Poland. Nazi “punks” killed her mother and grandparents before they even left town because they were old or infirm. “Why waste time getting them well if they were targeted for extermination anyway?” my friend tells students. Two of her uncles were caught trying to smuggle valuables in a loaf of bread. They were shot when the loaf of bread broke on the cobblestones revealing trinkets of jewelry. The rest of her family: father, aunt, 2 brothers, and a sister, went to the camps, different ones, of course. Her sister died in Auschwitz, and the rest survived, and came to America. Now in her late seventies, my friend tells her story in schools to let children today know that there is hope, a silver lining in any situation.
Children don’t have the background experiences to know that they can live through tough times. We don’t always know what internal and external disasters they harbor and endure.
Some students don’t know that if a kid teases them or brutalizes them, it will pass, or they can find ways to deal with it besides shooting up a school. Children whose parents beat them, or do drugs or alcohol may not realize they can survive even if they are taken to a foster home and are raped their first night there. My friend gives them hope. Through her life, they see the silver lining.
Silver linings don’t make everything all right. There are still consequences that follow any disaster. My friend does not know what her mother looks like. She has never even seen a picture. They were all destroyed. It still makes her sad. She goes into an emotional tailspin every time a disaster hits anywhere and flashes back to her times in the camps. Nonetheless, she lives another day and shows others that they, too, can survive. She was married and raised two successful children. She worked in the entertainment industry until she retired. She took a 90 minute yoga class with her friend and me the day after she spoke in this class. She impacts thousands of young lives yearly. She impacted my life permanently. She lives in the silver lining of her life.
Do you need to know there is a silver lining behind your cloud? Do you have a silver lining experience to tell?