Sometimes when tragedy strikes far away, I can’t help but turn off my TV, avoid the internet, and limit my exposure to the horrors. We are not a family that watches the news every day, and where I am very open and honest with my child about the day to day tragedies that happen to people we know and love, I have a hard time explaining coordinated suicide/murders in a city she only knows from watching cyclists race through at the Tour de France. There is nothing in her worldview to help me explain what happened in Paris.
That said, this evening Facebook provided me with a quote from Fred Rogers that at least gives me a starting point. He says:
“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.”
I love this. It takes the focus away from the terrorists and the death and puts the focus on the people who are forced to be heroic when horrible things happen. Those are the images I remember from tragedies like 9/11, Katrina, the Nepal Earthquake this past year, and the Boston Marathon bombings. I remember the helpers. With that context, I might be able to turn on the TV tomorrow and instead of focusing on the hopelessness of violence, I can focus on looking for the helpers, and I can help my daughter focus on the helpers too. I can’t promise her that I will keep her safe. I can’t promise that bad things will never happen to her, but I can tell her that “she will always find people who are helping,” and I can remind her that sometimes even we get to be those helpers. That gives me hope, which will allow me to pull my head out of the sand, but not until tomorrow.