Maybe it’s always been this way, but it sure seems like the world, especially America, is caught in a constant cycle of violence these days. Every violent act sends thousands of Americans to the local gun shop to pick up their first, second, third – you name it – firearm in order to protect themselves from the violence perceived likely to come their way, and the more guns out there, the more likely someone else is going to be hurt or killed by one. It’s gotten so out of control that many are questioning how to break that Catch-22 cycle. Well, of all people, the late, great Mr. Rogers may provide a clue in the right direction in the video below.
In the one episode Rogers ever filmed dealing with violence, he says, “There are people in the world who are so sick, or so angry, that they sometimes hurt other people, and they’re usually the ones who end up in the news.”
This aspect of our lives has only increased since Rogers first aired this particular episode in 1981, not long after Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed, and it’s only become more prevalent with 24-hour news channels and the Internet blasting constant hate and violence into our lives on any given day or hour. Over time it becomes hard to take it all in, but Rogers understands that, too. He says in the video, “the people who are doing these terrible things are making a lot of other people sad and angry. But when we get sad and angry – you and I – we know what to do with our feelings so we don’t have to hurt other people.”
Some of us sadly don’t, however. Luckily, Rogers offers a bit of advice for those struggling with the constant barrage of horror our culture presents to us these days.
“My mother would try to find out who was helping the person who got hurt. ‘Always look for the people who are helping,’ she’d tell us. ‘You’ll always find somebody who’s trying to help.’ So even today, when I read the newspaper and see the news on television, I look for the people who are trying to help.”
That very sound advice can also be found in the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s autobiography, edited by Clayborne Carson.
Rogers follows up his statement saying, “One of the most important parts of growing up is learning how to talk and play about our feelings.”
You see, the answer to breaking the cycle of violence in America is not running out to buy more instruments of death to “protect” ourselves through more killing, but rather through love – through looking for the loving people who offer themselves to help in times of violence, even putting themselves in danger to do so. Our path forward to nonviolence is both love and healthy communication. Both Mr. Rogers and Dr. King agree.
What better sources could you ask for, America?
Featured image by Thoth God of Knowledge via Flickr.