Look for the helpers. Here are two.
July 26, 2019 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Helping Underprivileged Kids:
Dale Schroeder lived simply for his entire life. He grew up poor, never married or had kids, and worked as a carpenter at the same company for 67 years. He owned just two pair of jeans and drove a rusty old Chevrolet truck. Shortly before his death in 2005, Schroeder told his attorney, Steve Nielsen, that he wanted to use his savings to help poor students in Iowa go to college. "I said, 'How much are we talking about, Dale?'" Nielsen told KCCI. "And he said, 'Oh, just shy of $3 million.' I nearly fell out of my chair."
Helping Homeless People:
Make an appointment at Steller Hair Company and owner Katie Steller will offer you a seat in one of ten flame-red chairs. All are stationary. Her eleventh chair - the one she hauls to street corners in the back of her Nissan - is not. “If fear is contagious, why can’t kindness be?” the hair stylist asks.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (6 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
A thought I had:

There was a brief...I don't think "backlash" is the right word to describe the responses I've read on the "look for the helpers" meme, really, because they aren't discounting Mr. Rogers' original advice. But there was a brief pushback for a while a few months back, in response to how a lot of people trot out that quote and post it whenever some tragedy happens. The dissenters were noticing - rightly - that a lot of people seemed to be falling back on that meme as a bit of a feelgood crutch in response to bad events, and the more it was brought out, the more it was starting to feel like an empty gesture. Was "looking for the helpers" really all we could do?

I had the thought that we'd all been overlooking an important point - that "look for the helpers" was advice that Mr. Rogers had been given as a child. And, it is advice meant for a child - a way to try to quell that fear that comes when a formerly-orderly world that you're still trying to make sense of suddenly shifts. It's a coping skill meant for a child who doesn't really have one yet.

And that means, I thought, that Mr. Rogers' advice for the grown-ups is different: now that we're grown up, we're supposed to step up and be those helpers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:33 PM on July 26, 2019 [86 favorites]

Johnny Wallflower, thanks for posting this.

EmpressCallipygos, totally agree. I find it comforting now, specifically, because I worry about my kids being frightened, and it's a good reminder to me to point out people who are trying to make things better. Also when I'm feeling hopeless, it's a good exercise. But you're so right: we can't use it as self-soothing alone, when we're adults and we have the option to Do Helping.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:42 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Look for the helpers: they should be your models.
posted by third word on a random page at 3:57 PM on July 26, 2019 [8 favorites]

They spent that $3m on 33 kids? I wonder how they decided on that approach instead of sending one to two kids each year in perpetuity.
posted by slidell at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2019

Yesterday a radio discussion of Netflix's upcoming reality TV shows said that where reality TV previously focused on discord the new shows were focusing on kindness. I don't watch so can't confirm but maybe the zeitgeist is moving to compassion.
posted by anadem at 7:03 PM on July 27, 2019

They spent that $3m on 33 kids? I wonder how they decided on that approach instead of sending one to two kids each year in perpetuity.

Hand of kindness .... bitten ...
posted by Chitownfats at 8:47 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

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