When something so beyond their experience, so far from what can be understood unfolds around them.
In Glasgow on Friday night, we saw people face incomprehensible scenes with courage, resolve, resilience, humanity, generosity and love.
From the moment a police helicopter crashed through the roof of the Clutha Vaults, people's first, last and only thoughts were to help.
Help in any way they could. Help, no matter what the danger. Help, without thought for themselves.
People who made it out of the wreckage of the pub and - instead of simply thanking God for their escape - turned and walked back into what they thought was a collapsing building to help others to safety.
People passing by in their cars, or walking home, or who could see wreckage from their window, arriving at the scene to join a human chain helping to save their fellow citizens.
The professionalism and heroism of our emergency service personnel who worked tirelessly in the wreckage, often at great danger to themselves and knowing that their colleagues had perished in the crash - who, when the final bodies were recovered, formed a silent honour guard to show their respect.
WE saw, too, so many small gestures which showed such great heart.
The son, standing vigil by the cordon throughout the night, knowing his father had been sitting where the copter fell and never contemplating that a son's place would be anywhere other than where he was - waiting on the worst news he would ever receive.
The hotel opening its doors to the injured and the exhausted.
The pizza shop operating through the night to make sure those helping at the scene could receive hot food.
The taxi firm waiving fares so relatives can make hospital visits for free.
The businesses near the crash site welcoming site workers and journalists in for a seat, or a heat, or a cup of coffee or even just the use of a loo as the recovery stretch from hours to days.
The response of a council which spoke for all the city, wanting to help in any way it could and responding to the sombre mood of a Glasgow in shock -cancelling St Andrew's day events, because respect was more important than cost; feeding police, fire and ambulance workers at the scene; and immediately offering financial help for anyone suffering hardship as a result of what unfolded.
Nobody knows how they will react when faced with the unimaginable. When that adversity came, as it did this week, Glasgow stood together.
All of our city will mourn the losses from Friday's tragedy.
And we will all give thanks for those who acted so selflessly to help others in need.
Mother Glasgow watches all her weans.