“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” — Mister Rogers
He was sitting in Busch Stadium in St. Louis just more than a week ago with his daddy, preparing to watch the United States Men’s Soccer Team take on St. Vincent & The Grenadines, when the announcer asked everyone to stand and observe a moment of silence for the tragedies that were right then happening in Paris. My small dude is nine. There was no warning, no way to prepare him for the news or ease him in to an explanation. I don’t object – in any way – to the honoring and observation of silence. I do know that Cooper is a sensitive soul and immediately had questions.
Many of these questions, we, as his parents, struggle to answer.
“Why do people hate?”
“Why are they so mean?”
“Is everyone ok?”
“Could it happen here?”
That night, Coop slept with us. His young heart was filled with worry, with anxiety, with fear. He cried for those lost and injured. He is sleepless at the prospect of that level of terror being aimed close to home. As I have before, I turned to the only quote that helps me to work through the loss – I look for the helpers. And I’m teaching my small people to do the same.
For some, this type of disaster brings out the worst – fear manifests in more hatred, in anger, in loathing. But for others, the urge to do good, to be good, to encourage, to love, to HELP takes center stage. As we have in the past, I watched this happen.
This is what I choose to share with my children. I want them to know, to remember, in the face of evil – there is always true good, true heart, and true compassion, in the world.
In a world that has found us counting more than FIFTY school shootings in just this calendar year, in a world that requires my small people take part in intruder drills in addition to those preparing for tornadoes, fires and earthquakes, in a world where my son can calmly ask me if t-e-r-r-o-i-s-t spells ‘terrorist’ while doing a homework assignment that asked him to mark world events that affect us all on a timeline – I am compelled to remind him (and his sister) that their world is also filled with good.
I love listening to him come up with ideas, figure out problems and use his imagination. Tonight’s assignment: Create a life timeline with six personal events and two events that have affected the world. He just sounded out “t-e-r-r-o-r-i-s-t” on his own to note last week’s attack in Paris as a world event….and my heart broke a little for the world he is seeing.
In case you missed some of those moments, read on and take heart in those willing to help. ~As the tragedies were unfolding, the hashtag #PorteOuverte began to appear over and over again…being used as a way for Parisians to offer food, shelter and assistance to anyone in need. #PorteOuverte means ‘open door’… and clearly open home, open heart.
~Also in the midst of the chaos, taxi drivers turned off their lights and were offering free rides to deliver people to safe locations….this was reported by a correspondent from France 24, Sophie Pilgrim, who was tweeting during the attacks.
Taxis taking people for free in Paris as many others stuck in shuttered bars, restaurants, some even locked in kitchens #ParisAttacks
— sophie pilgrim (@sophiepilgrim) November 13, 2015
~Twenty customers were allowed refuge in a famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. They watched events happen from within the darkened store and were able to call home to family and friends to let them know they were safe. A quote on the bookstore’s wall fits this time perfectly, “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise”.
~It is being called an“outstanding gesture of camaraderie” by Germany’s Acting Football Association President. The French National soccer team refused to leave the Stade de France when it was determined it would be too risky for the German Team to return to their hotel. This, according to The Guardian, who reported both teams spent the night on mattresses in the stadium.
~The lines to donate blood for the wounded were hundreds of people deep. CNN shared that 200 people had donated at one center alone…with an estimated 10,000 around the city choosing to help.
~That Friday night, and for many days following, we saw one city after another stand with Paris and those affected by showcasing the blue, white and red of France’s flag on everything from monuments to hotels. The Wembly Arch, London’s Tower Bridge, The CN Tower, The Sydney Opera House, One World Trade Center and the Omni Hotel in Dallas were just a few taking part.
~A pianist – a man by the name of David Martello, dragged a piano around the city with him – stopping to play John Lennon’s Imagine in front of the Bataclan theatre. It is reported that Martello saw the reports while he was in Germany and drove nearly 400 miles to play.
~A little boy is being referred to as ‘hope’ by members of a vandalized Mosque in Pflugerville, Texas after he donated all the money in his piggy bank to them. The vandalization happened the morning after Paris’ deadly terrorist attacks and 7-year-old Jack Swanson told his mom he wanted to help after hearing about the damage.
~A French father comforts his young son as they are interviewed by French media – Le Petit Journal. This video is beautiful in so many ways. You can see the boy trying to understand what has happened, and why….and the father refuses to let fear win, saying, among other things, “They might have guns, but we have flowers. Take a few minutes to watch.
I may not always have the right words. I may cry along with my children when we are faced with this type of horror, but I will always, always look for the helpers and encourage my small people to do the same.
Thank you, Mr. Rogers.