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    letters | withstanding grief

    Human spirit can supersede extremes of violence

    As someone with family in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., I am heartbroken by the events of this past Friday. The natural tendency is to remain focused on the senseless carnage of precious innocent children as we try to understand how something so horrible could happen. As a physician who works with torture survivors exposed to the infliction of pain and suffering under circumstances of total defenselessness, I am reminded each day in my work that, even in the face of amorphous evil, man’s extraordinary human spirit strengthened by faith and courage can supersede extremes of violence.

    Rabbi Harold Kushner’s book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” — note that the title begins “when” and not “why” — encourages us to see the hands of God in the ways we respond to the suffering of another. I think of the examples of self-sacrifice, the efforts to protect, the heartfelt weeping and grief in places of worship and homes across the United States, the thousands of vigils occurring far from Sandy Hook, the call that each child should matter, the cries for a safer world. I hope that this tragedy becomes a transformative historical moment for all of us.

    Dr. Lin Piwowarczyk

    Boston

    The writer is on staff at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights.