REFLECTIONS: A look at the American spirit in wake of terrible events

America always responds nobly and quickly to terrible events, whether they be mass shootings, 9/11 or hurricanes.

In their wake, accounts of heroism, compassion and generosity on a grand scale are the norm.

Granted, America has its warts -- racial and economic division at the forefront. But how heart warmingly Americans take care of others in dire need hopefully is the true and accurate reflection of our national character.

In a time when tragically too many Americans are soft targets for people and Mother Nature with bad intentions, America always has plenty of heroes and angels of mercy to lend a helping hand.


The aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting and recent hurricanes vividly reflect the American spirit at its finest. When disasters strike, our glandular response is to be comrades in arms.

If we can embrace each other like brothers when tragedies strike, why not on a regular basis?

Perhaps we are drawn closer together when a wrecking ball of terror hits because we are reminded of our mortality and how fragile life can be. But during ordinary times when our vulnerability is not as apparent, we revert to being self-centered.

Of course, humans are not perfect beings. If we were, we would be divine. Nevertheless, empathy is a powerful human trait that compels us to provide care, compassion and prayer for those who suffer.

Humans are built with a natural physical incentive for altruism – it makes us feel better when we are charitable. In the case of national tragedies, the motivation for altruism becomes even more pronounced. The community pulls in closer.

Research has observed a reduction in problems related to racism and community discord when community members focus on a common problem. Tragic events cause existential issues to supersede the ways that people may be divided.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if ordinary events had the same galvanizing effect?