Look for the helpers

It’s difficult sometimes to express the depths of sadness one feels when we as a nation experience horrific tragedies such as the ones that occurred this week in Boston and Texas. While neither of those two incidents were related, it’s hard not to lump the events together in terms of injuries, death and a great sense of loss. It’s difficult not to feel sadness and empathy for those families who are dealing with these tragedies on a personal level.

We think about the 8-year-old boy waiting at the finish line for his father; young restaurant manager waiting to take a picture of her boyfriend as he finished the marathon and a young graduate student from China. And there were 170-some more injured in the blast.

In Texas, a fire at a fertilizer plant turned into an explosion, leveling buildings in the small community and the toll of those killed and injured is still climbing.

It was difficult to watch the events unfold, to see the video and photos captured on cellphones, iPads and security cameras. And how do you talk to a child about those horrific events? It’s the same question I asked after the Sandy Hook shootings and the Aurora, Colo. theater massacre. What do you tell a child when they ask if something like that will happen at their school or movie theater or a soccer match?

Facebook has been filled with people placing tributes, sharing photos, prayers and words of inspiration. That’s great. People have to do what helps them best cope with the tragedy. But after seeing so many, I started to just click through all of them. You kind of become desensitized to it all.

But then I saw a familiar face smiling back off of my computer screen. It was Fred Rogers. You know, Mr. Rogers – that soft-spoken, cardigan-wearing icon from my childhood. The words written beneath his photo really made me stop and think. This was different than all of the other memes that had been circulated.

“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,'” the passage read.

He was right. There were helpers – hundreds and hundred in Boston. Medical personnel poured on to the streets from nearby care tents. Passersby stopped to aid and comfort people who were injured. Runners just kept going past the finish line and didn’t stop until they reached a hospital. There, they lined up to give blood.

In Texas, the small community of West turned out to help neighbors and friends who were devastated or hurt by the massive explosion. The football field in the town became a triage site and volunteers searched the rubble for survivors.

I don’t usually share those Facebook postings. Most seem a little trite, a little silly. But this one was different. I passed it along to my friends.

Fred Rogers was right. There are always helpers when tragedy strikes. We’ve seen on the news and we’ve seen it right here in our own neck of the woods. While we may never be able to prevent these tragedies from happening, there is comfort in the knowledge that helpers will be there.