Whether natural or manmade, disasters can strike at a moment's notice.

As human beings, we feel for victims of a superstorm named Sandy, as it devastates an entire coast. We mourn together after a troubled soul walks through the doors of an elementary school and forever changes the lives of many.

But on a smaller scale, throughout our lives, each and every one of us is thrown into situations where crisis is more tangible, and we are called to think on our feet, responding to these encounters spontaneously.

The Greek-born slave Epictetus (55-135 AD) said "We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how to respond to them."

True enough.

But sometimes I hear a story, or in recent weeks, two stories, which seem so outlandish ... so incomprehensible, that you can't even wrap your brain around them.

Dateline -- West Allis, Wis., Dec. 14. Sixteen-year-old Corey Stingley makes a bad decision by walking into a convenience store and stuffing some liquor into his backpack. Granted, it was a stupid stunt. But show me one person who, past or present, doesn't know a kid who has done something like this. Hopefully, through due process of the legal system, juvenile thieves pay the price of their crime, whatever the city or county determines that should be.

But by a stroke of what might be considered the worst luck ever, young Stingley -- by all accounts a nice kid, good student and star athlete -- happened to mess with the wrong convenience store ... or in this case, the wrong convenience-store customers.

As Stingley attempted to exit the store, three customers restrained him. According to West Allis Police Chief Charles Padgett, "People have the right to make a citizens arrest in such a situation and can restrain a suspect, but they have to be aware of the impact their actions are having...There's a line you can't cross."

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