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Finding Good in the Bad

by Beth on January 4th, 2012

This Sunday is the year anniversary of the shooting in Tucson that killed 6 people and injured 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. What a tragedy! But this morning I have been reading stories in the AZ Republic about the good that has come from the tragedy.

The family of one of the victims, 9-year-old Cristina-Taylor Green, has created a memorial foundation in her name that sponsored a toy drive at Christmas, bought backpacks and school supplies for children that can’t afford them, and provided a new playground and interactive whiteboards for her elementary school.

Tonight U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will lead a televised special in Cristina’s honor where she will discuss with 12 Arizona students how to improve the tone of political discourse, find common ground on controversial issues and foster civil discussions.

Patricia Maisch, who survived the shooting, is now an activist who testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in favor of an act that would toughen background checks on people trying to buy guns.

Unfortunately, bad things do happen. But people can and do find good in the bad. As Nietzche said, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger”. Psychologists call it posttraumatic growth.

Surviving trauma can give people a sense of personal growth and enhanced self-confidence when they realize they are stronger than they thought. People who experience tragedy often come away with closer relationships. And they are inspired by the compassion of family, friends, and even complete strangers. Trauma often changes people’s outlook, giving them a greater appreciation for life, leading them to experience life with heightened awareness, and giving them the sense that life has renewed meaning.

The pain of the Tucson shooting lives on. But it is heartening to see people’s resilience and to know that good can come from bad. As Patricia Maisch said, she was “impressed by the courage and kindness of strangers that morning” and, in the year since, she has been “awed by the ability of people to find good in the face of overwhelming loss.”

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