Look for the Helpers

“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.”

― Fred Rogers

I was planning on writing a happy piece this holiday season. It would have been about family, togetherness, hope, and all of the things the holidays are supposed to truly mean. While I celebrate Christmas at my home, I was planning on speaking of other peoples’ traditions as well. I wanted to tell everyone to have a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah, and I would have given other appropriate seasonal salutations to those who may celebrate different traditions. This piece was supposed to be about the happy, good things that this time of year is supposed to represent to us all.

And it still is, actually.

The above quote from Mr. Fred Rogers is absolutely appropriate right now. With the recent horrific events that have unfolded in our local area and the nation in the last two weeks it is important to be reminded of the good things that we’re supposed to remember during this season. Mr. Rogers's quote helps us bring that back into perspective. We will always see reminders of the fact that bad things will happen to good people and I fear that we will always struggle with trying to find the reason why. Truthfully, the fact that bad things happen is the reason EMS people have something to do. If bad things never happened then we wouldn’t need paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Police Officers, or the military. If bad things never happened, we could go about our lives in relative peace.

And as unfortunate as it is, the fact that bad things happen is a truth of the human condition.

If bad things never happened to good people we wouldn’t be able to see the other side of tragedy. We wouldn’t see the helpers. If bad things never happened we wouldn’t be exposed to the most powerful aspects of humanity. We wouldn’t see compassion. We wouldn’t see heroism. If bad things never happened we couldn’t experience how people come together for good and cause real good to happen in this world. If bad things never happened we wouldn’t see the true power of the human spirit. We wouldn’t see the good if we didn’t experience the evil.

If you listen to an emergency radio you will hear a constant drum beat of bad things happening. You will hear about crimes, about fires, about accidents and injuries, and of people becoming ill. It is incessant and unrelenting in most communities and those of us in the public service know that bad things happen at a rate much higher than what most members of the public allow themselves to believe. It can be quite easy to think that the bad is winning if you listen to the radio long enough. I counter, however, that for every bad thing you hear on the radio you also hear a miraculous fact shortly thereafter. You hear a response. The good answers the bad. You hear someone helping. You hear the fact that someone has decided to charge into the situation to do as much good as they can within a system that our society has built upon intention of helping and doing good. The bad is immediately met by the good.

My favorite quote by Kurt Vonnegut goes “I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.” I like it because he trumpets the fact that our society has decided to spend money, effort, and time to help those in need. A fire engine doesn’t judge who it helps, it just helps as it is asked. Firefighters, EMS people, and law enforcement people don’t judge either. We were all called to be helpers and we stand in the company of heroes from all walks of life.

Look around you at your fire station, police station, ambulance base, hospital, or wherever it is you work. Look at your coworkers or your fellow volunteers. When you look at them, realize that you are in the company of a group of people who would risk their lives to help a stranger. Remember that these kinds of people exist in this world. Remember that there are more good people than there are bad people and that there are more helpers in the world than there are those who would seek to cause harm. Remember that good is actually winning, will continue to win, and has already won.

This week as we mourn those lost in the recent shooting incidents, the tragic crash of the REACT helicopter, and all of the other bad things that have happened we need to celebrate those who are the helpers. Celebrate the heroes and the good that comes out of the bad. Celebrate the lives of the helpers who were lost. Celebrate and carry on with their spirit of helping.

This piece really is about what the holidays represent. Hug your children, hug your families, help those in need, celebrate the good in your life and remember what life is truly about. God bless the helpers. God bless the good in life and the fact that there is so much of it to see when we open our eyes. The bad may be shocking, but the good is much more powerful.

Merry Christmas.