There always seems to be too much bad news. Too much focus on the negative. Most people agree that the news media sensationalizes the worst in humanity. Earlier this month, there was a lot of focus on Charlottesville, Virginia and the horrible demonstrations of hate and white supremacy. Since then, there have been more protests, counter protests, provocative headlines, and way too many examples of hate, bias, and intolerance.
Currently, stories and images of flooding, wreckage, loss, and death are plastered among headlines and social media posts. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas harder than anyone imaged and thousands of people have lost their homes, their belongings, and in some cases, their loved ones. It is difficult to take in all the destruction left in Harvey’s wake.
Under these circumstances, I sometimes find it difficult to focus. Life seems depressing and slightly overwhelming. I don’t feel motivated to write because other things seem so much more important. Luckily, I have a coping strategy.
In times like this, I turn to Fred Rogers for guidance. In my opinion, Fred Rogers, (or Mr. Rogers as many of us remember him), was the perfect model of a kind, caring, and thoughtful man. He was the most gentle of gentlemen. He was wise and compassionate. Through his television show and his books, he impacted the lives of many people like me who watched and admired him. Without a doubt, a simple lesson he shared with the public has helped me throughout my life.
Fred Rogers said, “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.’” He encouraged news stations and the media to do a better job showing the helpers instead of focusing solely on disasters and catastrophes. He sought a balance between good and bad news.
During the terrible protests in Charlottesville, I saw helpers. People from all walks of life joined together to send messages of harmony, love, and peace. For every rally based on hate, there has been a counter-rally of helpers that disavow hate, ignorance, and violence.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I see helpers. It is easy to find touching stories and powerful images of helpers. This is also your opportunity to be a helper. There are endless ways to support those who have been affected by the hurricane. Lending a hand and finding a way to help will make you feel better. Helping is the best way to cope with the news and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
So when you feel down or overwhelmed, remember Mr. Roger’s and his mother. When you see children struggling to make sense of what is happening around them, share this empowering message. Whenever you feel the need, you can listen to Mr. Roger’s soothing voice and his important reminder, “Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”