When Times are Scary, Look for the Helpers

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When Fred Rogers was a boy and saw scary things in the news, his mother would say to him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” As an adult, Mr. Rogers said, “To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

Fred Rogers was the host of the CBC Toronto children’s television show, Misterogers (1963-66), and the long-running WQED Pittsburgh show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (1968-2001). He was a gentleman and a gentle man, with a soft voice and kind manner. He had an innate sense of how children should be treated to grow into healthy, caring adults. What Mr. Rogers said about children is often applicable for adults, too.

Mr. Rogers’ Wisdom

“If we don’t let children know it’s okay to feel sad and scared, they may think something is wrong with them when they do feel that way.”

“Angry feelings are part of being human, especially when we feel powerless.”

“It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hurt ourselves or others.”

“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”

He believed that it was important to help children “find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we’ll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the world’s future peacemakers—the world’s future ‘helpers’.”

Look for the Helpers

When the glass is half-empty, we can see “the signs”—scary warning signs—everywhere. However, that same glass is also half-full. There are positive signs everywhere, too. Two weeks ago there was the Women’s March in Washington, DC. An estimated 470,000 people participated. Did you notice that there were similar marches in cities all over the United States, and the rest of the world? In Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia, population 65, fifteen people marched in solidarity; that’s almost a quarter of the village.

A few days ago there was a candlelight vigil at a mosque in Quebec city where thousands paid their respect for the victims of Sunday night’s murderous attack. Thousands attended similar vigils across Canada in alliance. Most people who attended a march or vigil had the same motivation: to connect with others who were feeling sad and angry. They found a constructive way to deal with their feelings.

Every day, in places all over our planet, despite the claims by a certain president that so many things are a “disaster”, as Mr. Rogers said, “there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

Look for them. Then connect with them.

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Photo by Brett Sayers/Flickr

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