When Bad Things Happen

Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like bad things are happening much more frequently now than they did when I was a kid. Or maybe I was just a really sheltered kid. (That is a definite possibility.)

After a tragedy occurs, generally my first response is sheer rage at the horrible people who thought that committing acts of violence was a good idea. Then, despite my outwardly pacifist nature, I imagine all kinds of tortuous things I’d like to see happen to those horrible people, whoever they are, and kinda sorta hope for Vengeful God to serve up some Old Testament-style justice.

But ultimately, I don’t believe in Vengeful God, so that fantasy doesn’t last very long.

Then I contemplate running away to a place where shit like this doesn’t happen, which inevitably ends up being a Nordic country, which I then immediately rule out because it would get too cold and I like sunlight.

Then I immediately feel horribly guilty for being so superficial. (Just keeping it real.)

But mostly, I stick with rage.

Inevitably, though, no matter how much my righteous anger wants to bubble up and permeate everything I am thinking and feeling, my conscience––and what I hope is my true nature––slowly but thoroughly takes over and brings me back to one thing:

Mr. Rogers.

I *so* would’ve done the same thing had I ever met Mr. Rogers. Even as an adult. He’s my hero.

Yes, Mr. Rogers. Because he is probably the most wonderful person to have ever lived while I have existed on this planet (and I’m not the only person who thinks so––see here and here and here).

[Seriously, is there anyone who doesn’t absolutely ADORE Mr. Rogers? If so, they should be excommunicated from society. Except Mr. Rogers wouldn’t approve of that––he’d probably invite them into his house for a sandwich and some juice and they’d talk and maybe draw a picture or feed his fish or something and everyone would leave feeling respected and loved. Which is why everyone should adore Mr. Rogers.

But I digress.]

Just to give you an idea of how much I adore Mr. Rogers: when I heard that he had died, I sobbed. As in ugly-cried. And I am not a crier, especially about celebrity deaths. I cried myself to sleep that night.

And I can’t write about Mr. Rogers without sharing these fun facts about him*:

  • he was an ordained Presbyterian minister
  • his middle name was McFeely, which was his mother’s maiden name
  • he was a talented pianist (he majored in music composition in college)
  • he wrote and performed all the music on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood
  • his mom knitted all of his cardigans that he wore on his show
  • he was a vegetarian
  • he was red/green colorblind

*thanks, Wikipedia!

Anyway . . .

The reason I inevitably think of Mr. Rogers when bad things happen is because of this quote:

“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.

When I was very little, maybe around 2 or 3, and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say the same thing: a helper. I didn’t get more specific than that. I just wanted to be a helper.

I still do.

And no matter what happens in this scary, unpredictable, volatile world, I take solace in knowing that there are––and will always be––many, many more people who want to be helpers than those who want to hurt others. People will continue to be hurt, sadly, but there will always be people who will help.

And I am one of them.

And it is my responsibility as a parent to ensure that my child(ren) will, too.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.

––Fred Rogers (1994)