Acknowledging the bright stars in dark times

One of my all-time heroes is Fred Rogers, the Pittsburgh native who for decades educated and entertained millions of children with his show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” on PBS.

Mr. Rogers was noted not only for his cardigan sweaters and calm demeanor, but his advice and wisdom, which transcended all cultural barriers and remains a staple of the American conscience to this day.

One of the things Mr. Rogers was known to say was, “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.’”

These days, it seems like just about everything you see on television is scary; images of overcrowded hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients strapped up to ventilators and sadly struggling for their lives, images of empty and desolate streets in some of America’s busiest cities like New York City and Chicago, and images of giant trailers set up outside hospitals and convention centers to serve as makeshift morgues.

These are the sort of images you’d only see in the movies, or so you’d think, and they can leave you filled with anger, sadness, anxiety and fear.

However, it’s in times such as these that the words of Fred Rogers reverberate as true as the sun itself.

When watching the news, I try to look for those heroes. In fact, they’re pretty easy to spot.

Watching the scenes from intensive care units, you see nurses and doctors working tirelessly to keep patients alive and healthy. Out in the streets, you see National Guard personnel assisting with the setup of the temporary hospitals and coordinating response efforts in areas most affected. You see common everyday people continuing their daily lives under dangerous circumstances; firefighters and police officers still defending and keeping us safe, grocery store workers keeping the stores stocked and open and postal workers still hitting their routes delivering our mail.

There are plenty more in the service sector who deserve recognition, such as truck drivers and utility workers, who are there to ensure that the stores have produce to sell and make sure power continues to run into everyone’s homes.

It’s hard for many right now to see the good the world still has to offer, and with a global pandemic that’s still gathering momentum, it’s not hard to understand. Yet it’s important to remember that, even in such dark times, bright stars continue to shine. Taking a moment to acknowledge those bright stars will help bring some tranquility to one’s life in times such as this.

Take a moment to recognize and thank those who are risking it all for the sake of a healthier and safer world, and do your part to help them out and make their lives easier. Wash your hands, restrict your travel to what’s necessary and be responsible in terms of interacting with others. Those small but crucial steps will go a long way.

MICHAEL GUIDO

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