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Toni Emerson Headshot

Love in the Face of Intense Tragedy

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I feel compelled to share this with my Huffington Post family. Last week, I started to write an article on how our hearts can hold enormous compassion and love for humanity in times of calamity, and how love has the unique ability to reach over our cultural and personal difference to unite us with other fellow human beings -- no special instrument or instructions are needed. Nothing is more powerful than human tragedy to charter our own love expansion course.

Today, I have the urge to express what I think many of us feel in the face of the tragedy unfolding in Japan: powerless. Powerless in my ability to bring help directly where it is desperately needed, to pour compassion straight into the heart of people who are suffering.

I am overwhelmed by the stark contrast between all that I have, and all that they lost; by the victory of finding someone alive in the rubbles, and the reality of people who are alive but dying every moment. As I am typing this, someone is in the throes of the most horrible suffering, while someone else is overwhelmed with happiness at being alive or reunited with a loved one.

Clearly hell is here and now, wherever violence and human tragedy is present.

After making my charitable contribution, all I can do is close my eyes, drop into my heart and let the feelings come up. Sitting in the comfort of my sandalwood-infused room, dimly lit by a flickering candle, I feel guilt and shame, not the soft warmth of a loving state of mind. Instead, I am led to a sort of "universal hell" where I can hear each cry for help, every sincere last prayer uttered by faceless fellow human beings in their darkest hour of need.

I don't know the people who come to my mind and who are entering the depths of my heart. I haven't met the woman whose child was ripped from her tight embrace by the overwhelming current, but I love her.

My heart feels wide open and immense, overflowing with the strongest desire to spread outwards to the deepest and most remote parts of human suffering -- to all the Japanese people, of course, but also to the soon-to-be orphan, helplessly watching his mother die of AIDS in Africa; to the Darfur refugee's utter desperation in the face of unbearable living conditions; and to the scared child soldier, armed to kill in a war beyond understanding.

An incredibly poignant oneness with every human being silences the thoughts in my head.
One mind, One heart. I bow down to the resilience of the Japanese men, women and children facing the disastrous unfolding of one catastrophic circumstance after another. I am humbled by their composure in the face of their personal loss and suffering, by their cultural respect towards each other and their society.

Is embodying human suffering necessary? Enough? Helpful?

I don't know. I do believe that love has the power to reach its destination, in its mysterious ways, without us being notified. Love is the only resource that can be shared, even if we feel we don't have much of it ourselves. We don't need to have a full tank of Love to share it with others. We just need to open our hearts and let love find its destination. Love is the hand extended to humanity's suffering, looking to tightly hold each person and infuse every wounded heart with hope.

Nothing better to give. Nothing more worthwhile to do.

Our hearts and prayers to all the people facing hardship and suffering.

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