“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
In everything we do, we have a choice – to react, or to respond.
A reaction is instant. It’s survival-oriented. It’s grounded in the moment and doesn’t take into consideration the long-term effects of what you do or say.
To react is to let others do the driving. We allow negative events to whip us into a frenzy of panic and despair. We allow others to tell us how to feel, and we throw ourselves fully into feeling it before we’ve actually taken a moment to consider what our true response might be.
To respond allows perspective to enter the picture.
I originally wrote this blog a little before Memorial Day. I woke up that morning wondering how I could be of better service. While I am not comparing myself to the men and women who risk their lives defending our health, our safety, or our country, I do feel called to offer something of value to others and the community we choose to create together. I was thinking about the sacrifices we are asked as a society to make in service to a greater community good – such as wearing a mask in public – and how little is actually asked of us compared to the brave women and men who defend our country and freedoms.
Then George Floyd was murdered.
The racial injustice and senseless violence against George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many others forces everyone into the sunlight. It’s too bad it took days of protests and civil unrest to force many of us to finally stand up and, as Brick Fitness said so well, “Be about some sh*t!” To respond.
Racism persists. We need to connect, listen, and learn from each other in order to make ourselves and our communities stronger. We can no longer sit idly by while those in power abuse it. None of us are truly free until we are all free. And it’s incumbent upon those of us who have the privilege to make sure that we don’t stand in the way of those who strive for what we have, and that we actively fight those who would stand in the way.
My friend Martin said it best. “We must all hold ourselves accountable…It is our duty to clean our own house.”
In other words, be a helper. That’s one way to respond.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for all the helpers I can find.
Image courtesy of Joey Chase at Chase Art. Check her out on Instagram