When the weight of the world hangs heavy and the future is shrouded in thick fog, hope can be found in the words of Fred Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
There is no question that these are harrowing times. “Unprecedented” might have been the most overused word of the year in 2020, and it has continued to haunt the doorway into 2022. An extremely inexhaustible list includes a global pandemic, nerve-wracking glimpses into the climate crisis, the murder of George Floyd, the recent Texas policies targeting trans youth, and now Russia has invaded Ukraine with murmurs of impending nuclear war.
With collective anxiety and palpable fear at an all-time high, there is value in the simple words of Fred Rogers’ mother. If we allow ourselves room to take a breath and “look for the helpers,” we will surely find them: the above image of strollers left at a train station for Ukrainian mothers fleeing the violence, videos shared of people in Italy singing from their balconies at the start of the pandemic, healthcare workers and their incredibly hard work during such challenging times.
If there can be even a small silver lining to any of this compounded tragedy, perhaps it can be found in those among us who are the helpers, but also in one another. As a collective, we have been forced to slow down and recalibrate from full calendars and overflowing social agendas. We were forced to turn inward, to recenter ourselves and take a good, long look at our priorities and the kind of life we want to build. In these times of isolation, we are reminded of the interconnected nature of humanity, how, just as trees send nourishment to one another through their root system, we need one another to survive and thrive.
While it undoubtedly will not remove the troubles of the world, or erase our often doom and gloom-filled newsfeed, there are a few things that can encourage us to be ‘helpers’ and have hope:
Connect: Reach out to your people. Pick up the phone. Send your BFF $5 to grab a coffee on you. Mail a letter. Even the littlest things can help someone feel appreciated and less alone.
Stop the Scroll: Engage in your social media mindfully and press pause before the doom scrolling becomes a little bit too much.
Get Outside: Even if the temperature is less than balmy right now, moving your body, breathing in fresh air, and getting some vitamin D will calm your nervous system and get you into your body and out of your head.
Pick One Thing: Decide on a cause that you’re passionate about and give to them, donating your time, money, or voice on their behalf.
‘Look for the helpers’ and be the helpers. In this, we are bound to find each other — and within that, a little bit more of ourselves.
Written by: Brittany Johnson
Photo credit: Francesco Malavolta
Last modified: April 6, 2022