The World Is Coming Apart. What Can I Do?

by  Page Cole  |  Community Involvement
The World is Coming Apart. What Can I Do?

I was stunned like many of you were to hear about the attacks in Paris by terrorists. I was especially concerned because I have friends living there.

Mark Oldham and Gretchen Beil were students in my youth group, and I was their youth pastor through their junior high and high school years. After high school, they married and eventually ended up living Paris.

They and their children love Paris. It’s their home. Even though I discovered they were safe after the attacks, I was broken-hearted that their home was attacked, because I love them.

Mark, Gretchen, me – we’re all from Oklahoma. We’re the home to the largest tornado in history (and lots of other damaging tornadoes every year), the Murrah Federal building bombing attack in 1995 (the largest act of domestic terrorism in our history), and most recently a senseless car crash through the homecoming parade crowd at Oklahoma State University.

We’re no strangers to tough times. But if you take the time to Google “tragedy in __________,” and insert the name of your state, I’m sure the list would be just as long, if not longer.

Many times we feel helpless in the face of tragedy. It doesn’t matter if that tragedy is a half a world away, or right in our own city. The calamity can seem so enormous, so overwhelming that it stops us stunned and numb in our tracks. Our friends may be hurting. Our kids are asking tough questions. Our co-workers are confused or conflicted about it all.

What can we do? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take A Breath – Make sure it’s a long, slow deep one. Maybe take 3 or 4 of them.
  • Donate – With crisis typically comes a need for resources, whether it be cash donations, food, whatever. Just help as you can.
  • Listen Wisely – Not all information is good information. Trust credible sources. Before reacting or overreacting, make sure that the information you’re receiving has been verified.
  • Pray – Yes, I said it. Some things are just way too big for us to face without help from God.
  • Relax – I’m not suggesting you have a nonchalant attitude. Rather, I’m encouraging you to remember that there’s only so much you can do, and that some things are simply out of your control.
  • Focus – Big problems can be faced with big solutions, but more often than not they are overcome or worked through by lots of people applying lots of smaller efforts and solutions. Focus on what you can do to help or move forward, no matter the size of your efforts.
  • Talk It Out – Find others who will listen, and dialogue about constructive ways to help and respond to the challenge. Everyone brings a different perspective and offers a different set of solutions or ideas.
  • Rally Support If You Are Able – Whether it’s organizing a blood drive, establishing a Go Fund Me campaign, or making a donation to a relief agency, you can be the linchpin of a movement to make a difference. The only thing stopping you is you.
  • Put The Needs Of People As A Primary Concern – It may not be as glamorous or exciting to make a donation, write a card or make a phone call to someone in need, but it could drastically impact their world and their heart in a powerful way.
  • Clear Your Head – It may sound strange, but it’s amazing what 30 minutes of relaxing music, reading a book or taking a walk can do for your nerves and for your attitude. You’re not much help in any situation if you’re a wreck emotionally, mentally or physically.
  • Do Something – You can’t do everything. You can’t make it all right, fixed or better. But there is no excuse for remaining idle or standing still on the sidelines. In times of crises it is the character of honorable men that make history and shape the future. Be that person.

Charles DeGaulle once said: “Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.” It’s fitting that in light of what has happened in Paris that we take the words of this historic French leader to heart.


How do you cope at times of crisis?
Photo Credit: Fotolia bloomua

About The Author

Articles By page-cole
I’m a dealer in hope… In my career, for seniors who want to stay safely in their own homes… in my family, that our best days are still yet to come… and in my sphere of influence, that we all have the ability to change our world, first and foremost by changing ourselves for the better!  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  19 Nov 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Page:)

Timely and useful post about something that is becoming rather commonplace.

We are called upon to react and you have given us a good list of elements to move us from stunned inaction to thoughtful and intentional action … always a good direction.

While everything on the list is essential, I particularly like your third one: “Listen Wisely”. My experience is that we do not always do this, especially when the cause of the trauma is politically or religiously based, rather than a random act of nature or a crime.

Especially now, with multiple tragedies having occurred over the past few weeks around the world, some as recently as yesterday, we might be forgiven for feeling a little “shell-shocked”.

To “Listen Wisely”, as you tern it, seems awfully important now, since decisions have been and will be made that have long-term and serious consequences for many people … we owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, those others, their loved ones, and to the planet to not react from fear, mistrust, or misinformation.

I keep putting myself in the place of a father trying desperately to keep his family safe and together in some parts of the world. While parenting is a challenge in all times and places, it is much on my mind and in my prayers of late.

Thanks for adding a voice of reason to the discussion … I hope that others listen and share this, because we need compassionate and thoughtful discernment now.


Page Cole  |  20 Nov 2015  |  Reply

Thank you for your words of encouragement! I believe our efforts and our stress levels are best served when we do learn to listen wisely! I’ve been guilty of reacting to quickly to information that may not have been accurate or objective! I appreciate your thoughtful perspective every time I hear it!

Duncan M.  |  19 Nov 2015  |  Reply

Page, I bet that it was tough for you to write this article considering that you have close friends in the heart of the chaos. But you are so right when you say that we must not just react, we must also take a break. We need to approach the crisis in an organised manner otherwise we either overreact, or we do nothing and feel bad about it. Calmness and a helping hand can make a difference.

Page Cole  |  20 Nov 2015  |  Reply

It was emotional for me, and thank you for being sensitive to that. I’m thankful that they are well and safe, but I worry the world we’re leaving our kids! Let’s continue to work together to make it a great world!

Join The Conversation