Looking for the Helpers

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Children decorate a sidewalk after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.















So what else can we tell our children? The world is dangerous. And we are fragile.











The Boston Marathon bombing trial brings with it a chance to think about how we talk to kids about our world.


This month, the news media will bring us back to the scenes of April 2013, the date of the Boston Marathon bombing. The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who faces 30 counts of murder and terrorism, begins with jury selection.

It was a good opportunity to think back to when the bombing happened, and the rapid reaction of horror that spilled across the country that day.

Facebook and Twitter caught fire with comments over the course of that difficult evening. While there was a sense of quiet anger, the more prevalent attitude I saw was one of dismay, the kind which questions the world we live in, how people could do this, and so on.

One friend wondered what she could tell her children. It’s a fair question. Late in the afternoon, a handful of people posted a quote from Fred Rogers:

“When I was a boy, and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Leave it to good ol’ Mr. Rogers (or, well, his mother) to bring the right amount of sensitivity to a moment of tragedy.

Here’s the only way I can make sense of this: the world is good. It is not perfect, nor is it wholly pure. But I genuinely think that our inherent demeanor is made of good stuff. Man was made in God’s image. And God is good.

So what else can we tell our children? The world is dangerous. And we are fragile.

Every parent fears any harm befalling their children. And often this fear is the driving force of parents inadvertently harming their kids as they dive to protect them.

I’m just as susceptible as any father. Last weekend at the playground I watched a young boy climb atop a tubular slide and walk down its top. I was more or less frozen in terror watching him, this delicate squirrel of a boy, as he nimbly negotiated his way to the ground.

Likewise, I try not to flinch when Julia grabs the bar above the slide and lifts herself into the air, swinging. I try not to be the buzz kill when she gets rowdy on the couch. She is a kid. Kids fling themselves around and get hurt. Often the best thing to do is let them fall and help them up.

The world is dangerous, and we are fragile, but we are good. Whenever it feels as if darkness is winning the fight, put your head down, child, and keep moving forward. When it seems evil is too strong to defeat, go out and do good. When terror reigns, rush in at a full sprint to comfort, and love, and care for those in distress. This is what we must tell our children.

But, more importantly, we must also show them. —James Hogan 



This article originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of Trinity Topics. Read more from this edition here.

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