Mr. Rogers’ words reminders of good

Published 11:56pm Friday, December 14, 2012

“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.’ 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


On a day like Friday, it’s easy to forget that there is good in the world. Even as we finalized the stories that would be on today’s front page, I said out loud, “All of the news is sad today.”

An elderly man died in a house fire. Two other families here lost their homes to fire. There were heart-wrenching stories of need and not a dry eye in the place as letters were read in JR’s and WAMI’s in Christmas campaign Friday morning. Two of our staff members were there; one said she sat on the back row and sobbed as she heard read aloud the words of a little girl who just wanted socks for her and her brothers at Christmas.

Sad as those stories were and are, they were nothing compared to what happened in Connecticut yesterday morning. A 20-year-old man with a history of mental illness opened fire, and his mother, a school principal, teachers, and 20 students died. He also took his own life. Suddenly, elementary schools in small towns weren’t the safe havens they once were. Everywhere, people were heartbroken.

I found myself teary-eyed and emotional again and again. Then I read the words of the late Fred Rogers, and I was reminded to look for the helpers.

Even in that horrible setting in Newton, Conn., yesterday, people stepped up to help. Teachers held themselves together and led children out of the school. Emergency personnel and volunteers responded, as did counselors.

In Opp and in Andalusia yesterday and in the days leading up to the two events, dozens of people helped make Christmas more special for needy families.

Volunteer firemen left the warmth of their homes and beds Thursday night to try and save three homes, or at least keep the fires from spreading to other structures.

Mr. Rogers and his Neighborhood were staples of my childhood. My brother closest in age and I must have watched hundreds of hours of his show, hokey as it was – especially by today’s standards. But I’ve no doubt that his positive affirmations and simple lessons of acceptance had lasting effects on us and thousands of other children.

It would be easy to sit today and weep for those who were lost yesterday; but I choose to focus on the light in the world rather than the darkness.

There are helpers today who’ll be busy giving bags of rice and beans to those in our community who need assistance stretching their food budgets, and serving breakfast to those who show up at St. Mary’s for the help.

Perhaps we should strive to not only look for – but to also be – the helpers.



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