The scale of destruction and the degree of suffering caused by the massive earthquake in Haiti are too great to overstate. Local eyewitnesses and reporters struggle for words — like “unimaginable” and “sobering” — to describe the scene.

Such tragedy, even when involving people and places removed from our daily experiences, evokes feelings of concern for those whose lives have been lost or devastated. We feel a sense of helplessness, and perhaps gratitude and/or guilt that our lives are free from such.

However, a renewed perspective on what is important can also come from a shocking reminder that life is fragile and unpredictable.

A big news story in Tennessee, where I have been traveling this week, is that the UT Vols football coach has headed from the hills of Knoxville back to sunny Southern California. Fans are understandably angry and shocked — to think that someone in the sports world where big money flows would be interested in getting more big money.

However, that news report seemed particularly trivial coming on the heels of the big story yesterday morning.

Does that mean people who enjoy college football should ignore the fact that they lost their coach after just one year? Should they not be interested in who will replace him? No.

Pop culture, sports and the fine arts enhance our lives. But when we see the fragility of life itself in such great proportion, we have the opportunity to refresh our perspectives and reorder our priorities.

Prayers and generosity are always appropriate responses to tragedy in any part of the world. Among several,here are two good places to give: American Red Cross and Baptist World Aid.

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