The Helpers

"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.' To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world." ~Fred Rogers

I have been thinking of this quote quite often in recent days. There are so many scary things, so many disasters to contemplate when we look around us. Senseless shooting violence in a movie theater in a land of plenty. Storms and fires and shakings of the earth that wipe out towns. The 300 million children around the world who go to bed hungry as their families struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day. A viral epidemic that has left at least 30 million mothers and fathers and sons and daughters dead since we gave it a name and started counting the deaths. We can quiver, afraid, in the face of so much disaster.

Look for the helpers.

I am surrounded by them here in Washington DC, where 21,000 researchers and doctors and activists and policy makers have gathered for the AIDS 2012 conference to focus on "Turning the Tide Together." Great, big, crazy ideas are being thrown around left and right. An AIDS-free generation. Universal access to HIV treatment. Ending the epidemic. Finding a cure.

But these are not just empty slogans to get the conference-goers excited. All around me are helpers who are transforming those words into realities. These helpers are running experiments in their labs, seeing patients, putting new policies into place, spreading the word about what really works. These helpers are out in the streets shouting for human rights for all and lobbying their politicians for the money that is needed to save lives.  These helpers are remembering those who have been lost by reading names and spreading out the giant AIDS quilt with even more giant kindness. These helpers help loved ones with pills and wheelchairs and insurance company negotiations. These helpers take their own pills every day and teach others what it means to live positively. These helpers have great big brains that they are applying to great big problems. These helpers have great big hearts that they are applying to great big problems.

Mister Rogers' mother had it right. There are so many helpers.

Posted at 02:42

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