After a tragedy — when people wonder how to talk to kids about terrible things — a decades-old story told by the late PBS children’s-show host Fred Rogers will be cited again and again. That’s as it should be, because the message is timeless. The gentle man known as Mr. Rogers shared what his mother told him in the wake of scary news [this particular version of his advice is from his syndicated newspaper column in 1986, via Snopes]:
“‘Always look for the helpers,’ she’d tell me. ‘There’s always someone who is trying to help.’ I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.”
The helpers were everywhere in Manchester, England, last night, after a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people and injured almost 60 more. There were the first responders, of course, including law enforcement, the bomb squad, ambulance drivers, paramedics, doctors, and nurses. But many civilians offered aid as well: cab drivers gave free rides; locals offered up spare beds; hotels bedded concert-goers in their lobbies; people lined up to donate blood; and businesses large and small offered free food, drink, and phone charging.
Writer Anthony Breznican was moved to tell a story about how, during a tough time in his college years, he encountered Mr. Rogers in an elevator and discovered that the kindness Rogers exhibited on television extended into real life. I recommend reading it, either through Breznican’s original thread of tweets starting here, or Vogue’s collection of them here. (Separately, Breznican linked to this article about Rogers’s commitment to racial equality.)
It’s reassuring to know that Mr. Rogers — who happened to be an ordained Presbyterian minister — truly practiced what he preached.
Other reading that’s helpful in a different kind of way:
- Buzzfeed has a list of disproven rumors about the bombing, so that you don’t get taken in by mischief makers or sincere but incorrect commenters.
- If you are are a media professional or know one, please review the handbook on trauma reporting from Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.