Human Response

Have you ever asked yourself what you would do in a crisis? How would you respond? I often find myself thinking about my own response and hope that I would do what I could for others. I want to know that I would respond not react; but can we really ever know until the time comes? We’re taught to put our oxygen mask on before assisting others but in true crisis is it what we’re taught that directs our actions or what’s within us?

Let’s go back. If you haven’t been following the media on our worlds events (you likely should due to our ongoing pandemic and also a love for our world) there has been further tragedy in Lebanon. An explosion, ranked third larger in the world after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has left a city in complete devastation. This has left humanitarian, economic and public health crises. The explosion has been appropriately referred to as “violent, dark and evil circumstances” leaving loss of life and destruction. A truly horrific ordeal that shakes our souls as we think about inflicting this pain on others and I wonder to myself, how?

The explosion in Beirut has left over 130 without life and injured over 5,000, with over 300,000 left displaced without shelter. The search for victims continues and the death toll continues to rise. I want to examine two women who took a tragedy and brought to it beauty and life. One nurse in Beruit is being named a hero and a glimmer of hope while a grandmother is bringing peace and solace to the hearts of many.

(Post-explosion in Beirut, Lebanon – Not my Image)

In the wake of a horrific event we see human acts that restore us to the hope for our future and the hope of what we as humans are innately capable of. People stand out amid these violent and dark circumstances.

A photojournalist, Bilal Jawich, captured a moment that has kept our hearts filled with hope on the most challenging of days. He is quoted “this heroine caught me inside the hospital and was accelerating to call despite the suspension of communication holding three newborn babies and surrounded by dozens of bodies and wounded” She has since been called a glimmer of hope amongst tragedy, Pamela Zeinoun is her name and should be said with pride. This female nurse remained calm which contrasted her surrounding atmosphere, she has since stated “we were very scared….I was able to grab a twin brother and sister and another baby”. Her calm demeanor allowed three babies a safe haven in these moments. He’s stated that she “looked like she possessed a hidden force that gave her self-control and the ability to save those children”. The nurse had been left unconscious following the blast however as she regained consciousness she had innately gone to the aid of three newborn babies. This female, in moments of crisis and terror, sought to save the lives of those too innocent to save themselves. Some may say it’s her profession, a caretaker did this act, however she deserves the acknowledgement. She made choices (consciously or subconsciously) to seek out those in need and save lives in moments of chaos, moments of terror, moments of unknown. She taught us all about how to respond in moments of need; amid a pandemic, a corrupt system, a tragedy. She is both a hero and a lesson revealed in a moment.

Photo by Bilal Jawich

Another woman in this tragic circumstance has taught me about my own response to pain and fear. This woman, May, found solace in music as she sought hope and peace through this destruction of the home she’s always known. The woman’s granddaughter noted that the video of her grandmother playing piano provides a “symbol of hope and peace among the despair”. This woman’s home of sixty years was left with nothing except an untouched piano. Despite the debris and glass scattered and general destruction, May (79), found solace playing “Auld Lang Syne”. In her time of deepest heartache she was able to find a moments peace for her heart. However this moment did not stop here and did not stop with May. When “Auld Lang Syne” ended, May played Arabic hymns which led to many clean-up volunteers gathering together to join in worship. So often we find ourselves reactive to pain and fear, we lash out, we react negatively. May was able to take her pain and her loss and create a space of love, a space for hearts to come together and a space of safety even . May’s moments brought me back to Italy in it’s early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, the beauty of song bringing individuals separated in quarantine, together. The power of human connection goes unmatched in times of tragedy; May has reminded us again of this as our world continues to experience despair and yet we struggle to forge together.

Watch full video here:

Talking about our worlds events is always helpful. It’s important to acknowledge the events we are experiencing worldwide. However this is only one way to bring light and awareness to the issues. Other ways to get involved include donating. These are challenging times as we continue to battle COVID-19 and the mental, physical, spiritual and economic impacts. However, the individuals impacted by this explosion are feeling this in a much harsher form. Here are some ways to give to the rebuild, to feeding hungry stomachs, to clothing those in need and to housing the surge of homeless individuals. This funding is for survival:

  • Lebanese Red Cross (
  • SEAL for Lebanon (
  • Arcenciel (
  • Beitel Baraka (
  • Himaya (

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