Positive messages left outside a bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village last month

BUILDING BRIDGES: Plenty of positives to focus on in spite of tragedy

As a mom of young children, I protect my little ones from the ugliness that forms our news, but I know one day I won’t be able to.

Watching the news is not for the faint of heart, and many people have sworn off staying updated on world events via media.

I understand that. Being bombarded by visuals of horrific events that seem to be happening too frequently in our global community can be demoralizing, and make us feel like we have to be afraid of our own shadows.

As a mom of young children, I protect my little ones from the ugliness that forms our news, but I know one day I won’t be able to.

And when I can no longer pretend that mind-blowing, heart-breaking tragedies don’t happen, I’ll be borrowing a page from another mother – the mother of Fred Rogers (host of TV’s Mister Rogers Neighbourhood).

As a child, when he saw something scary on the news, Nancy Rogers would say to her son, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

She was right. In every catastrophe, natural or man-made, you will find hordes of people on the frontline, rolling up their sleeves and doing what needs to be done.

And when people can’t physically be on-site, they show solidarity across the continents through their words and rituals.

This is the thing I want to show my kids when the time comes, because it’s what helps me. If I focus on the many, many more people who are on the side of good, I have a slightly easier time getting through what has happened.

A friend of mine who was participating in a local run this year admitted she wasn’t so much worried about the fact she hadn’t properly trained for the run as she was of a terrorist attack at the event.

It made me sad that this was even a thought that had to cross her mind, but I could understand why it did.

Despite the fact that every day, countless people around the world are saving lives, building organizations that improve the health, safety, and education of others, and essentially spending their professional or personal time to help perfect strangers, many of us focus on the few who seem hell-bent on perpetuating their hate.

They are scary and infuriating and yes, even deadly, but what I worry most about is how much power they have over our minds and emotional state.

Because without meaning to, we could end up doing the rest of the dirty work for them simply by becoming hateful ourselves.

This is a trend I am sad to see happening the world over, where innocent people are being stereotyped as evil-doers and judged before they are known.

To avoid getting caught up in that game myself, I continue to look for the helpers: the men and women who donated blood after the shooting in Orlando during a time they were fasting, the firefighters who came from South Africa to do what they could about the fires in Fort Mac, the local people in every community that has seen violence who have come together to pick up the pieces of broken hearts, broken lives and broken hope.

They are brave and generous, and numerous.

This is not an attempt to sweep tragedy and pain under the rug, but an effort to help us move forward with as little as possible of that fear and hate that a small percentage of humanity wants to plant within us.

When the young ones are ready to learn about both the good and the bad in our world, where will we direct their focus?

In preparation for that moment, can we be mindful of where we direct ours?

Columnist Taslim Jaffer writes monthly on multicultural connections.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

Sources volunteers face off at the organization’s ‘Enchanted’ gala – one as a fairy and the other as her magic-mirror reflection – held in 2019. (Tiffany Kwong photo)
‘Rising infections’ prompts move to virtual Sources gala

Silent auction, raffle opens to public at 9 a.m. Oct. 30

This year’s annual Lighted Boat Parade has been cancelled. (File photo)
White Rock’s annual Lighted Boat Parade cancelled

COVID-19 cited as main reason for cancellation of popular winter tradition

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

A surveillance camera in a photo posted to the Project Iris page on surrey.rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Quality surveillance video helps catch crooks, Surrey Mounties say

Charges laid in connection to break-and-enter in Guildford area

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read