There’s a quote by Fred Rogers that has been circulated widely, especially in recent years with all of the natural disasters, horrific mass killings, and other tragedies that have been going on, about looking for the helpers when kids see or hear about disturbing things in the news.
I love this quote, and I think it is certainly helpful in distressing times of tragedy and disaster. However, simply reading or “liking” this quote on Facebook is not going to change things.
But do you know what is? Love. And forgiveness. Actually showing love and forgiveness to ourselves and each other. I realize that I say this at the risk of sounding very much like a hippie. Or the Mormon that I am. And maybe I am a Mormon hippie, but who cares? All I know is that when we feel love toward another person, even if we don’t even know them, that love replaces whatever negative feelings were there before. In the moments that we are feeling love, the bad feelings go away—they aren’t just covered up.
I’m reminded of a song we sing at church sometimes. There’s a line in one of our hymns, “Love at Home,” that says, “…hate and envy ne’er annoy when there’s love at home.” It’s true. We can’t feel hate when we are feeling love, just like we can’t have darkness when there is light.
So what about times when we are so angry and hurt by someone that we just can’t bring ourselves to find that light or to feel that love?
I think that’s where forgiveness comes in. When we forgive those who have wronged us, it does not mean that what they did was okay. Not. At. All. But when we forgive someone, it does mean that we let go of the hatred we have in our hearts for them, which then makes room in our hearts for love. And then it creates space for us to heal.
Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said this about forgiveness, and I echo his sentiment:
“I know this is a delicate and sensitive thing of which I am speaking. There are hardened criminals who may have to be locked up. There are unspeakable crimes, such as deliberate murder and rape, that justify harsh penalties. But there are some who could be saved from long, stultifying years in prison because of an unthoughtful, foolish act. Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.” (From his talk on forgiveness during the October 2005 General Conference, which you can read in its entirety here.)
So feel the love. Embrace your inner hippie. Be excellent to each other. Forgive. Our world needs more of us to be the helpers — always — not just in times of tragedy.
— The Conscious Mom