Why I’m Taking Mr. Rogers’ Advice Today

By Kris Windley

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.04.12 AM

I’ve been Trying to Figure out How to Address This Week’s Post…

This past week in Moncton, NB – where I live and where my children go to school and learn about life and reality and all of the ways of the world – something impossible happened.

I have been mulling over this dilemma for a few days: do I write about the tragedy my town is sifting through today, or do I pretend it didn’t happen and just keep going with what I had planned to write about? I decided that there is an important lesson in this for all of us, and that I need to write about it – if for no other reason than catharsis.

So bear with me, while I lay bare my heart a little bit.

I won’t delve fully into the details of the actual incident here in Moncton, because I just can’t anymore. We’ve been steeping ourselves in the details since our city went on a literal lockdown on Wednesday night, to protect our residents and to facilitate a massive manhunt after the plotted, shocking and heart-rending murder of three RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers, and the attempted murder of two others – by a heavily armed gunman.

We as a community knew nothing, but the fact that we needed to know more. We were shocked first – “This is Canada!” – and then we were numb and simply trying to make sense of life during the lockdown. Some of the people in our community learned what it is like to be in a militarized zone – suddenly deprived of freedom and safety, while the rest of us sat helplessly offering to house friends or family who were unable to reach their home inside the lockdown zone – and we waited.

After roughly 28 hours, and an influx of support from all over our Country, our tiny “sleepy” city breathed a collective sigh of relief, when the manhunt ended. People made their way home, and we began to try to make sense of it.

How do we talk about this? What do we learn?

So that is what happened. It was extra frightening – we said to ourselves – because it is something that simply doesn’t happen “here”. But the truth is that nobody expects this kind of thing to happen in their “here”.

Most of us, in the Developed World, have the luxury of assuming at least a degree of personal safety in our neighbourhoods. Those of us in smaller cities, and in a country like Canada – heralded always for our relative gun safety in North America – we assume that safety is ours to claim. Forever.

So now what?

How do we deal with the break in our protective blanket of assumed security? I have two kids who are – at 11 and 14 – fully in the midst of developing the lens through which they will view the world forever. How do I help them to process this without breaking or hardening their young hearts?

Be a helper | Writing, Marketing Coach | Moncton, New Brunswick

#PrayForMoncton memes have been popping up all over Facebook since the June 4th shooting

I take Mr. Rogers’ advice. That’s how.

Social media became, and continues to be, a meeting place amidst this chaos and questioning, and that is where I found focus for healing my family, and making this tragedy make sense in our lives.

On Facebook, I saw a meme (go figure) labelled with the #PrayForMoncton tag that’s developed out of this week, featuring one of those beautiful and wonderful teachers from childhood: Mr. Rogers.

It is no surprise that this man had a lesson to share with me this week – after teaching me countless lessons during my childhood.

 

“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.” – (Mr.) Fred Rogers

Well there you go. I stopped scrolling, and put my hand to my chest. My breath came in sharp and my tears fell down. “Look for the helpers”, I whispered aloud. My girls looked up from the TV show they were escaping into, and knowingly curled up with me on the couch. We took a minute then to talk about the fact that there will always be helping-people, even – ESPECIALLY – in the most frightening and disheartening moments. And we felt it: the beginning of ok.

People in Moncton – all over Canada – have realized how much it takes to be a helper: to be only working to help and protect others. Other officers did too – they came from every corner to help us and to help their colleagues. At a moment when the men and women of our town who are tasked with our protection and safety are broken and hurting for the loss of their own colleagues and friends, a wave of other helpers poured into our city to help our helpers. This is a beautiful thought.

We have – as a community – begun to truly appreciate these helpers, I think. We recognize them in their strength, bravery, loss and persistence; we recognize them in their brotherhood and in their grief. We recognize them in their humanity. And we are moved.

Looking for and thanking helpers in Moncton, New Brunswich

Moncton RCMP headquarters – surrounded by community members during a memorial on Friday

Every RCMP detachment office in Moncton and the surrounding communities is surrounded by a swathe of flowers, balloons, handmade cards and so many lit candles that I can smell them a block away – wrapped around the steps of each office like a bandage over the open wound left in the heart of our city.

Candle-lighting memorials brought out thousands of people and ended up by necessity spread out over all offices of the RCMP in the surrounding areas and townships, because the streets surrounding the main headquarters in Moncton simply couldn’t accommodate all of the thankful people who needed to communicate their support.

And then there is today. Today, our city is even more overrun with men and women from all over the country. Law enforcement officers from all over Canada  and even some from the US flew or drove into Moncton this morning. These men and women are here to be a part of a 3 km marching procession to honour the three officers who gave their life on a day like any other day – while answering a call for help.

And so after the madness ended – and a brief respite for the families to be together transpired – a full regimental funeral service will take place in Moncton this afternoon, attended by grieving RCMP officers, dignitaries, politicians, families and friends. And our community. We will be there too – looking for the helpers, and offering them our love, support and condolences.

We are scattered across our city in different public satellite locations (created by the City of Moncton to allow everyone to be a part of the goodbyes, because we can’t all fit into the huge coliseum where the funeral is taking place).

We are in our homes, schools and at work too, all dressed in red to match the RCMP dress uniforms – worn by those lost and those grieving. We will be together, and we will be heartbroken as we say goodbye to three men with families and friends.

But we will also be saying thank you – a thank you that is as intense and powerful as any grief. A thank you that is beautiful and has made us all more beautiful for having felt it.

Thank you for your help – every day – and on that day.

Gratitude can translate into action

Seeing the helpers and recognizing their sacrifice is truly beautiful, but it’s not enough. The thing that has been crystallized for me here is that whatever we do – at home or at work or in the grocery store – we need to do it as a helping person first. We need to refocus our actions and our motivations to one simple task: be helping.

Those of us who work for ourselves are in a position of freedom, but we are also in a position of great responsibility. My father always said to me, “With every freedom, comes an equal measure of responsibility” and I think that it applies here perfectly.

Business owners have all kinds of responsibilities that are obvious: follow-through on contracts, meet deadlines, do our taxes, get out of bed and work without a boss telling us to. BUT! Our biggest responsibility – to ourselves and to others – is to be a helper in everything we do, because we have the freedom to do so. We get to decide what we work on and how we do it, so this is a no-brainer for us.

Click to Tweet: With every freedom comes responsibility. When we’re free enough to help, it’s our responsibility to do so.

If we all focus our work toward the specific goal of helping, our mission becomes laser focused in one direction. Every question is answered more simply; every investment becomes more clearly necessary or unnecessary; every training becomes a more important step toward making us better at helping, or a waste of our time, and everything that we do or do not do will fall into line with what we are responsible for: our own impact on the world we inhabit – our own measurement of helpfulness.

Because if we aren’t helping someone, we are failing.

I will be back next week, with more writing advice and tips. I do hope that what I do here is a helping thing, but today, I simply had to stop and be here with my city and with our hurts. I had to feel it and I had to communicate it, because that is what felt right for my voice.

Tell me please about any kind of helpers you feel grateful for – and the help they’ve given you. Let’s take a minute to appreciate that aspect of humanity, together, shall we?

Thanks!

xo

Kris With a K | Writing Coach


 

KrisWithaK

Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.

I write articles about Writing, Small Business, Mental Health & Changing the World.

If you want to get an email from me when I send words & doodles into the void (ideally, every 2 weeks...but probably not that often), sign up here.

I won't sell your stuff or send you SPAM, because I'm not a jerk & I hate confrontation.

12 Comments

  1. Tricia on June 5, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Beautiful!

    So sorry this happened in your community!

    • KrisWithaK on June 5, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      It was a hard thing, Trish, and a lot of people are still working their way through it…but it brought us all so much closer. I think the lesson is there in us now – in a way it never would have been otherwise. Hard things do bring out some wonderful things in humans. 🙂

      xo
      K

  2. Cara on June 11, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Wow! I am so impressed with your post, it was so beautiful. This whole tragedy has really shown me the beauty of the people of our country. How they have come together to help. Thank you so much for sharing your story. hugs

    • KrisWithaK on June 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Thank you Cara! It has been a beautiful expression of togetherness – you are right. Canada rallied around us this week, and we are thankful.
      Hugs right back atcha!
      xo
      K

  3. Nela on June 11, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Oh my, I’m so sorry to hear this! 🙁
    And honestly it’s kind of sad to see that sometimes it takes a tragedy to unite people in kindness and support.

    A few weeks ago parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia were flooded – something that is likely caused by human neglect, because we’re paying taxes to get the dams built so this wouldn’t happen.
    Anyway, thousands of people and animals are now homeless. They’ve lost everything. But the positive side is that hundreds of thousands have collected money and supplies and sent them to those in need. For a few weeks telecommunication and electricity companies forfeited their fees in these geographic areas, there were concerts all over the country where everyone (not only musicians) were working pro bono, every cultural event had a fundraising part… It was a movement.

    Sure, floods really suck. Murders suck. Hurricanes and earthquakes suck. Especially for people who were affected by them.

    On the other side, I wonder if there’s anything beautiful that could bring us all together as much as these tragedies can.

    • KrisWithaK on June 12, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Well said, Nela. I think you are right: there is something hardwired in the human spirit that creates in us an extra wind of goodness when we are in the midst of tragedy and disaster. There is beauty in our ability to rally in the midst of ugliness.
      Thanks for sharing your story! I hope that those flood-affected areas are coming back to life like the people around them.
      xo
      K

  4. kathy mercure on June 11, 2014 at 8:05 am

    A beautiful and moving piece, Kristie. Mr Rogers was a wise man I am finding out more and more as I get older. Thank you for this.

    • KrisWithaK on June 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Thanks Kathy. It’s been a rough week, but our home is making me proud.
      I’m taking the girls down to the Main Street headquarters today with sealed letters of thanks from each of them – then off to the Riverview Market to get special cookies from Buttercup bakery (all proceeds go to the Fallen Members Fund). They have learned so much about being good people from this, and so have we all.
      Let’s have coffee soon, and hug each other happy.
      xo
      K

  5. Ann-Marie on June 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Oh Kris, this is such a terrible story and you have brought it to us so poignantly with your words. But I also love Mr Rogers’ sentiments- I have written them down to add to my collection of favourite quotes. Here in Australia, helping manifests every time there are huge natural disasters – bushfire, flood, cyclones… which happen all too often. As a teenager, I lived in Adelaide and we experienced one of the worst bushfire days seen in Australia. My Mum was at home on her own and found herself single-handedly fighting a fire racing up our backyard. The authorities were fully stretched that day and did not even know that the fire had jumped the road and into the valley where our little cottage stood. A young man pulled up on the side of the road and helped Mum to put out the fire in the garden and thus save our house. As soon as they were done, he was on his way, presumably to help someon else further up the road. To this day, we do not know his name or where he came from, but we are forever grateful that he stopped to help.

    • KrisWithaK on June 11, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Ann-Marie, I love that story. Thank you 🙂 Nameless helpers who do so only because in the moment it is right are heroes too.
      xo
      K

  6. Jo Cavagnis on June 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Beautifully written Kris, I am actually sat here in tears. I have some idea of how that must have felt, I lived in London when the Tube Bombings happened and I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I remember getting home so late and feeling so grateful to be alive and then remembered that 52 people didn’t go home that night and I cried myself to sleep that night. I remember waking up the following morning and feeling so angry, so indignant that 4 people had felt it right to do that to our city to MY city. On the way to work London felt like a different city, it felt stronger, more resilient and there was an air of defiance. People started to talk to each other, smile at each other, the papers were full to the brim not with doom and gloom but with stories of heroes, of everyday people helping each other, of street parties held for people who couldn’t get home. Yes, 7/7 was the day that 52 people were sadly killed but it was also the day London stuck 2 fingers up to those responsible and shouted ‘we are not afraid’ at the top of it’s voice. It emerged a bigger, better and stronger city. I am so sorry for what happened in your city Karen but, together, you will all get through this and come out the other side all the stronger. Thank god for helpers hey and may the 3 RCMP that were killed RIP and forever be remembered for the heroes they were.

    • KrisWithaK on June 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Thank you for your story, Jo. It has indeed become a more resilient city here too, and we are more together than ever before. I suddenly feel a pride for my town that I never have before.

      This is one of the most amazing things about the human spirit, I think: the way we automatically are drawn together when we are afraid or hurting and lift one another up as a stronger, unified group.

      Thanks again for adding to my feelings of ok-ness!
      xo
      K

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