Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Helpers, Light and a Better World

Because I want a better world for these goof-balls.

The world is a real mess.

It’s easy to wallow in the fear of the kind of future we have ahead of us, our kids, and their kids.

After hearing on the radio a brief snippet about the Boston bombing (before I could fumble and turn it off), it was a question posed at me by my 4 year old that stopped me in my tracks,

“Mommy, why them want to hurt people”.

Looking at her big, sweet, innocent brown eyes I really didn’t have an answer. She’s only 4, so it was really quite simple to divert her attention to something else. (She gets that from her dad… haha) and soon we were talking about horses and horse shows and how she hopes to win some ribbons.

But when we got home, I happened across a quote from Mr.Rogers (who was my bestie as a kid) that stopped me in my tracks:

“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.”

Wow. So simple. So exactly what I wanted to tell her, but for once in a my life, couldn’t find the words.

It’s not the ability to divert her attention I was hoping to accomplish, it was an explanation. She’s too little to really understand the complexity of foreign or domestic terrorism (um.. I think I’m also too young. I did watch Zero Dark Thirty.. does that count??). But Ben, well he’s not too little to ask more intricate questions.

After the Newtown shootings I could barely function. It was something I actually couldn’t even write about because every image I saw, every story I heard, sent me so deeply into a place I couldn’t bear to be. Those toothless smiles looking out at me from the memorials circulating online bore too much of a striking resemblance to the 6 year old smile I saw everyday. I couldn't avoid it all, and then I saw something that nearly crippled me.

One of those sweet little 6 year olds was also named Ben.

For the first time in my, at times, annoyingly-optimistic, life, I saw darkness where I had always seen light. It was so close to home, and so raw with emotion that I succumbed to the scary place. I didn’t want to watch the news, or read anything about that day. I wanted to rewind my subconscious into a place where things like this never happened. I even cried when I sent Ben to school the next day.

But then I made a real and conscious choice, one that I had to make again after what happened in Boston.

I decided to see the light in humanity.

Because when you start to look for the light, you see it more luminous than ever, and the more light you look for, the more the darkness fades. I chose to acknowledge and really notice that even after such a monumentally horrible event, there was light. Police officers running fearlessly into that building, teachers shielding their students, students helping other students, a world shedding tears and saying prayers for strangers.

I realized that in giving those responsible no thought, and halting the train of anger that screams so loudly “WHY! WHY? WHY!?” there is a calming strength that takes over that starts to propel you forward to be the light others are looking for, even if they don’t know it yet. A strength in believing that humanity is good, that humans want to love and be loved, and that despite the horrors we see around us.. we can lift each other up and light the way for those who are floundering in the dark.

It’s not going to stop the hate, or the ‘scary things on the news’. And, I am not naive enough not to realize that there must be those that are forced to look into the darkness, and to find answers to the questions that are terrifying to ask.

But as parents, as an everyday mom who needs to be able to answer questions about humanity, and war, and why people do horrible things.. well I’ve just never heard a more simple, overwhelmingly positive, answer.

And maybe, just maybe, if we can teach our children to see the helpers, and how to see the light, the world might just be a better place.

Here is the clip, it's short.  Watch it and remember why we all happily sat and watched him change his shoes, and put on a different sweater every morning.  What an awesome guy:


  1. Oh my goodness. This made me very teary. So so so true. Thank you.

  2. Well said. On days like Monday, it's easy to forget for a moment, that most people in the world are good. It's the very few "bad guys" out there that get us feeling like the world is a dark, nasty place. If we start believing that it is, the terrorists have won.
    Keep up the good work.