Mr. Rogers Helps Me Deal with Terror

What did you think when you heard about the terror attack in Paris today?

Did you react the way I did with anger? Did you feel what I felt: despite yourself— despite your better judgment, despite your expectations of yourself – a welling-up of hatred?

As soon as I opened my browser this morning and learned of the attack, I was exhausted, tired of thinking that this is the world we live in now. I knew I wanted to write something, I knew I had to say something even if only the birds and the rain would hear it.

I opened the Notes app on my phone and started typing what was on my mind in that moment. Here’s what I wrote, look at how full of Us/Them oversimplified thinking it is:

That’s it! I’m done. Done defending their culture.

Why do we have to be sensitive to their culture when their culture is murderous?

I’m not alone in that either. Look at the trending topic #Muslims on Twitter. Here are just four examples from that thread:

muslims_tweet_1

muslims_tweet_2

muslims_tweet_3

muslims_tweet_4

The worst of us can bring out the worst in us.

Seeing people giving voice to the hatred that I myself felt, made me realize pretty quickly how misguided that is. I took stock, I wrote this in my Notes app:

No. You can’t dismiss the whole culture because of the acts of a few. The culture is one thing. The crazy people who are inclined to defend the culture with murder are another and a separate thing.

And there are other voices on the #Muslims thread:

Muslims_5Muslims_6

It’s all so complex. So hard to know what to think or how to feel. Or is it? What if it’s as simple as this:

These are two bad people doing a bad thing.

The_Bad_1

But look at these people:

Helpers_1

And these people:

Helpers_2

And these people:

Helpers_3

These are thousands of good people doing good things. Standing up for good things. Standing up for the hurt among us. Standing up for all of us.

The worst of us brings out more good than bad.

Looking at these images of the good among us outnumbering the bad, I was reminded of what Mr. Rogers said. He was counseling on how to help children deal with images of tragedies on the news. He said to tell the children “When something bad happens, always look for the helpers.” When someone inflicts pain, look how many people come out to help ease that pain. Look at the helpers. “Because when you look at the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”

So many helpers. So much good in the world. Even on a day like today. Still so much hope.

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4 thoughts on “Mr. Rogers Helps Me Deal with Terror

  1. Thanks for sharing, Ethan. Those words spoken by Mr. Rogers couldn’t be more comforting in times like these… Reminding us to find something, anything besides terror in them. There are so many good people. Helpers. Beautiful things in the world. All of the bad can make us easily lose sight of that. May hope always win.

    • Two other quotes come to mind: “I would rather walk with a friend in the darkness, then walk alone in the light”. That’s Helen Keller, and it came to mind both when I saw the demonstrations where people were joining together to underscore the strength of goodness and when I saw this comment from you, Ron. Thanks for connecting with me on this day. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. Fight to be a light and you will defeat darkness every time.

  2. I was shocked when twitter rang muslim supporters after sydney attack. I thought they will be again scrutinized for being muslims.
    I agree with you, bad can bring out more good than bad. And that good will spread like wildfire

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