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

In light of our often random and tragic reality, it’s easy to misconstrue Mister Rogers as a saccharine balm. Truly, his mom’s advice doesn’t diminish suffering. Over 400,000 people have died of COVID complications in this country alone. White supremacy continues to rear its ugly head and remind us that we have sinful skeletons in our collective closet. Our world seems smaller than ever, due to technology, but that very same technology seems to pull us further and further apart. I could go on . . .

What can the “look for the helpers” advice do for us in these times? I suggest that, while it doesn’t diminish the painful realities of our corporate life, it does offer us one path through the valley of cynicism. Mister Rogers was, after all, the great anti-cynic. Never cool, often misunderstood, but seldom cynical.

On my best days I try to care less about being cool (read: cynical) and more about pushing back against the darkness. It’s easy to get bruised, bent, and broken in the fight for a better world. You’ll get knocked down or worse. But gratitude is good medicine. Look for those helpers and thank God for them. Especially the small ones, the weak ones, the insignificant ones that’ll never make the headlines. They’re mustard seeds. They’re meek. And they might just inherit the earth.

Look for the Helpers—written March 7, 2020, just before the world turned upside down

There’s a 5-year-old in Carthage, MO

Who couldn’t stay up late for my show

So the next morn he woke up real early

And made his way outside in the cold

Where he found a couple weary musicians

Loading gear in a green Kia Soul

He tried to pick up a box of band t-shirts

But he couldn’t cause the box was too full

Look for the helpers

There’s a woman named Dorothy Johnson

At Green Hills retirement home

For four years she’s been serving as the president

The best one that they’ve ever known

She never misses a resident’s birthday

Sends every visitor a thank-you note

She’ll take your hand and she’ll ask you a question

And remind you you’re not alone

Look for the helpers

Look for the helpers

He’s at the checkout bagging your groceries

She’s at your bedside when you’re sick as a dog

You might not recognize them or remember their names

Sometimes love looks like a thankless job

So look for the helpers

Look for the helpers

Look for the helpers

You can listen to “Look for the Helpers” on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and more: https://linktr.ee/pauldemer

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