Mr. Rodgers was known for saying to children that in a tragedy, look for the helpers. This last week the nation looked on in horror at the tragedy that occurred in Texas. Many people tweeted about all the politicians, both good and bad. People even went to social media and reminded people the importance of voting. You know what? When my power is out in below freezing temperatures and my water is out or pipes burst and flood my home, I don’t need a vote. Voting is good, but much more needs to be done, and Texans did the much more this last week. Texans stepped up and became helpers to one another.
Many Texans brought people together in their homes if they had generators and could keep their house warm. Individual plumbers went to homes and fixed broken pipes for free. People gave out money for other people to have enough cash in the grocery stores. A church in Austin has opened up its doors as a food pantry. They may not have running water, but they have donations of food, diapers, and bottled water. Neighbors checked on neighbors. Let us not forget the owner of the mattress store who opened up his store to shelter 300 people with food, warm dry clothes, and a comfortable place to rest.
I wonder if Mr. Rodgers told children to look for helpers in a tragedy because he hoped one day they would become the helpers. No one who is helping someone in a tragedy stops and asks that person for whom they voted or are concerned with their religious beliefs or their ethnicity. In a tragedy, we are all humans at that point and our differences are pushed aside, which is why it is so important that many of us take a break from just typing our opinions on social media and begin getting to work. People have been working and serving since the beginning of the pandemic. When we serve, we do not have time to criticize or cancel people on social media. In fact, we begin to choose what we do on social media and our mental state becomes healthier.
When we serve others, we forget about our own struggles, if even just for a few hours. I remember serving in New Orleans six months after Hurricane Katrina hit. Many places did not have power. We gutted homes. We fixed up a church to be a dormitory that would house volunteers in the summer. It was a week where I didn’t think of myself. For one whole week, I focused on the needs of others and remembered the blessings that God had given me.
It almost sounds like a selfish reason to serve to get mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy, but serving others is not just about the other person. It is about using our voice, our hands, our talents and gifts for the good of others. Serving others makes our souls healthier. It is what makes us human again.
In the movie, Beauty and the Beast, those living in the castle wanted to be human again so they could serve. Even in their states of not being human, they did everything they could to serve. Their lives were not complete because the prince gave them praise, but because they were able to serve. Our lives become complete when we serve others.
With the pandemic and many places closed in Los Angeles, I had to discover ways to serve others. Whether it is a text message, a phone call, or writing an encouraging post on social media or giving money and supplies, serving others is always beneficial to our overall health. Maybe it is why so many in the medical field do not get as sick physically as those of us outside of the medical field. In any of our workplaces, once we see our jobs as places of service, we become mentally and emotionally healthier.
So, as we pray and think about solutions for those in Texas, we can also discover ways we can serve those in our own communities. Many people may not be able to give of their finances, but all of us can give of our time. When we fully open again as a country, we will notice there are changes. There will be changes because people served. If we notice that our communities are not better, then it will be time that we roll up our sleeves and get to work. It’s the Texan way. It’s the American way. More importantly, it’s the humankind way. Let’s not just look for the helpers, let us be the helpers.