• Bryan T. Hixson

Tsunami of Love and Compassion

by Bryan T. Hixson

The most important current event to a given person is the one that “touches” them the most, and that may not be the tsunami someone else is battling.

COVID-19 has left a global wake of scared and scarred, and yet this pandemic isn't the only personal tsunami being battled in the world today.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

In 2004 many watched TV coverage of the tsunami in Indonesia that claimed over 230,000 lives. In 1931, floods in China claimed between 1,000,000 and 2,500,000 lives. Most have never heard of that natural disaster which claimed more lives than any other in history.

After scanning the front-page stories on the web, I've determined a couple of things about current events.

The most important current event to me is the one that “touches” me the most.

The current event most important to me may be completely irrelevant to you.

On Friday, March 11, 2011, the current events on the news didn’t catch my attention initially. On that morning, what caught my attention was an email from our insurance company denying a claim. That news hit me like a lead balloon as I began to wonder how we would cover 15k in medical bills. At that moment, nothing else in the news (personal or public) mattered as my critical current event was now the most important current event for me. At that point, I might have described it like a tsunami rolling over my spirit.

A few hours after absorbing the shock of this personal tsunami, I learned of the current event that shocked the world and changed the lives of millions in an instant. That doesn’t suggest that my personal tsunami went away, although it changed my perspective. My tsunami became somewhat of a ripple compared to the giant wave that completely covered the world of thousands.

The vastness of devastation, pain, sorrow, and loss among the people of Japan created aftershock and fear of another tsunami. The earthquake of 9.1 that triggered this tsunami, and its impact, was tens of thousands of times larger than my personal tsunami. (see Richter scale below)

What began as the most important current event for me was completely irrelevant to those now homeless, or struggling to find their family, or stranded on the tops of buildings, or mourning the loss of friends and family. My 15K dilemma didn’t go away but it did come into a bit different perspective. This perspective forces me to look at today’s pandemic and hopefully appreciate someone else's personal tsunami. That tsunami may be a lost life, lost job or internship, lost opportunity, lost graduation, lost good-bye, delayed wedding, denied visit to a dying family member, denied nursing home visit, no food on the table, no financial resource for medical care, or some other personal tsunami.

A global pandemic is the biggest current event on the news, yet for those like the individual struggling with late-stage cancer, the homeless mother of 3 children, the parent whose child was kidnapped, or someone whose family member just died, the pandemic may not even register because they are suffering a personal tsunami in the midst of a pandemic.

Let us see beyond ourselves to consider those struggling with their own tsunami. And may those devastated in this pandemic’s wake encounter a tsunami of love and compassion.

Class Magnitude Earthquake Effects

  • Minor         2.5 or less, – Usually not felt, but can be recorded by seismograph.

  • Light          2.5 to 5.4 – Often felt, but only causes minor damage.

  • Moderate  5.5 to 6.0 – Slight damage to buildings and other structures.

  • Strong       6.1 to 6.9 – May cause a lot of damage in very populated areas.

  • Major         7.0 to 7.9 – Major earthquake. Serious damage.

  • Great         8.0 or > –  Can totally destroy communities near the epicenter.


(First posted in 2011. Redrafted April 2020)

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