Over the last 24 hours, I’ve seen these words from Mr. Rogers shared all over social media:
I love it–it’s true. When these things happen, we should look for the good–it reminds us that there is good in the world. And we need that reminder when tragedy strikes.
With that said, let us remember that it isn’t just when we hear about bad things on the news—it isn’t just when tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings occur—that we should look for the helpers. Let us remember that we shouldn’t just look for them to reassure ourselves that there is good in the world—more good than evil. Let us remember that each of us should be a helper—in our daily lives and not just in the face of catastrophe. Yes, it is events like this that pull us together, that unite us as a people. But that shouldn’t be the only time we come together to help one another.
We should strive in our everyday lives to support and love one another—to stand against hate, oppression, violence, and all that is bad and wrong in this world.
Sometimes it’s about the little ways in which we help one another. It’s about not turning our backs when we see someone in need. It’s about choosing compassion and empathy and selflessness. It’s about understanding that we’re all in this together—and we should look out for one another.
I lived in an apartment complex upon first graduating from college—no roommates for the first time. I had moved to a town I did not know to take a job. And I had to find and secure an apartment with little to no knowledge of the area and in a short amount of time. I had never lived in an apartment complex before, and it was an adjustment. Living amongst so many other people was a definite change. I had so many neighbors. Many of them I did not know and never would—especially because it was a transient population—people were constantly moving in and out (and getting kicked out or arrested in a cocaine sting…whatever). One morning I was sitting on my little balcony, drinking a cup of coffee when I heard a scream. I turned to my left, and saw two people on the second floor of the building across the street—right on the front walkway. One was a man and one was a woman. It took a moment for me to realize what was happening—and it wasn’t good: he had already hit her a couple of times and then, as I ran inside to call the police, he began mercilessly beating her and screaming obscenities. The police, I knew from previous experiences, would take a while to get out there, so when I completed the call, I ran out my front door and reassessed the situation. Still bad. I ran down the stairs of my own building and beat on the door of the apartment below mine—because three young, strong men who worked construction lived there. No answer. I looked over again—still bad. And so I ran over there. And I started screaming at the man, telling him to stop. I didn’t really think it through all the way (Had I, I might have considered I could be injured). I just did it. I could have gone back into the safety of my apartment and waited for the police to come. But I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t because he stopped. He stopped and threatened me and yelled obscenities at me. But that gave the woman an opportunity to run inside the apartment. It was a little thing—not a disaster like what happened in Boston yesterday. Not a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina. But it was an opportunity that presented itself: to help or not to help?
On Friday nights, I used to always watch ABC’s What Would You Do? And I would always ask myself that question about the scenarios presented: What Would I do? I wasn’t always happy with my own answer. But I try. I try to do better, to be better, to be the helper. In yesterday’s news there were reports of people who ran towards the blasts, towards the smoke, towards the screaming—instead of away. People who were helping. People who, when push came to shove, chose to help others even at risk to themselves. Would I do that? I don’t know. Because I’ve never been in that situation. But in my everyday life, I strive to be the helper when I can.
We all have opportunities to be the helpers–every day. And we should embrace those opportunities—no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Because we–we are the good in the world. And as Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”