People sick.

Businesses closing.

People losing jobs.

People dying.

Life as we know it coming to a near standstill.

On and on and on ...

We feel helpless in the face of it.

What can we do in the face of overwhelming tragedy and disaster?

Often we compound the harm by looking to social media, where we engage in bitter political squabbles with family, friends and strangers.

Unable to do anything, we strike out in anger with people who do not agree wholly with us politically, religiously, culturally. We speculate. We spread rumors.

We look to Facebook and turn away more hopeless than ever.

Instead, we should look for the helpers.

The late Fred Rogers, yes, Mr. Rogers, shared this advice.

When parents asked him how they could explain disasters and tragedy to their children, how they could spare their children some of the horrors of the world, he advised them to look to the helpers.

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” Rogers said. “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.”

In a 1986 newspaper column, he wrote:

“I was spared from any great disasters when I was little, but there was plenty of news of them in newspapers and on the radio, and there were graphic images of them in newsreels.

“For me, as for all children, the world could have come to seem a scary place to live. But I felt secure with my parents, and they let me know that we were safely together whenever I showed concern about accounts of alarming events in the world.

“There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: ‘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.”

Look for the helpers.

Now, the helpers include people working in grocery stores to ensure we may all have food and items of need.

Helpers include the truck drivers carrying goods across the nation.

Helpers include the people working drive-throughs to ensure others are fed.

Helpers include the people looking for different ways to do business, to those working at home, to even your friendly neighborhood journalists working all hours to keep people informed.

Look for the helpers.

It’s excellent advise for children.

It’s excellent advice for adults.

Looking for the helpers will not stop disasters or tragedies, but looking for the helpers demonstrates there is still plenty of good in the world.

There’s still plenty of good in our fellow human beings.

Looking for the helpers is a reminder of what we can be instead of what we could become.

By looking for the helpers, more of us may be inspired to be helpers.

And the world needs all the helpers it can get. Always. And especially now.

There will always be disasters. There will always be tragedies. Bad things will happen.

But as long as there are helpers, there is hope in this world.

Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times.

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