It’s always interesting to see what search terms bring people here. It’s especially interesting to see what seems to be a hopeful trend towards compassion and unity in the face of tragedy. More often the conversations these national sorrows evoke are less vitriolic and more deeply soul searching – as they should be if we are to change our culture to one that embraces justice, equity and compassion at all levels of human society, and abhors and rejects violence.
The most popular search terms since yesterday? “Darkness cannot drive out darkness” and “Fred Rogers helpers.” I spoke yesterday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote. We’ve visited with Fred Rogers here before, too, the benevolent children’s program host who shared “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” with legions of children for over 35 years.
The reference to “Fred Rogers helpers” stems from a story he once shared: “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 Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Fred Rogers produced a prime time special to help parents cope with the tragedy and with what he thought, at the time, was awful media sensationalism, in an effort to give families ways to talk with their children about tragic events in the news.
“I’ve been terribly concerned about the graphic display of violence which the mass media has been showing recently,” he says in the piece. ” And I plead for your protection, and support of your young children. There is just so much that a very young child can take without its being overwhelming to him. I’ve been very frankly quite concerned about it. … The best thing in the world is for your children to be included in your family ways of coping with the problems that present themselves at any time, but particularly now in this very difficult time in our nation. ”
He shares gentle coping suggestions in the video, and in fact, his guidance is still well regarded and highly recommended today, 45 years later. “Helping Children Deal with Tragic Events in the News,” is as timely as it is unfortunate that it remains timely.
“I’m really grateful to be able to work with you,” he says in the video. ” And I feel it really is work together, you know, in caring for our children.”
You know it is, really, and we need to keep working together to care for our children and each other in kind, compassionate ways, now and forever more.