The flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey has revived what has become a classic social media cliche in the wake of a disaster: The Mr. Rogers’ quote, “Look for the helpers.” The sentiment is usually paired with images of professional or amateur emergency responders in action. The messages are hopeful. They say even though bad things may happen there are always people there to help. It is a nice sentiment, but most of those “look for the helpers” posts and tweets ring as hollow as sending “thoughts and prayers.” We can do better.
Mr. Rogers had a TV show for children. His message to “look for the helpers” was directed at children. “Look for the helpers” was something his mother had told him as a boy. Telling children to look for the helpers is a way to comfort them after a tragedy. Mr. Rogers’ “look for the helpers” message was not directed at the adults because the adults are supposed to be the helpers.
As adults we often need messages of comfort and hope too. Sometimes we feel too overwhelmed to help or are already burdened with other responsibilities, but we should at least try. We can’t always be on site or even donate money. We can’t be the helpers every time something bad happens. Still, we can try.
Yes, when something bad happens look for the helpers. Applaud the helpers. Thank the helpers. But also try to find a way to be a helper, even just a little. It’s what Mr. Rogers would want.
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