By Shelly Clay-Robison
PSC Board Secretary
It’s not often that our nation is stunned into bewilderment by tragedy like the one faced by Newtown, Connecticut students, teachers, and families. We’re left shaking our heads, wiping away our tears and asking, How? Why? and finally, What can I do? At a time of year when we should be reflecting on peace, new beginnings, and joy, we are left wondering if there is anything at all we can do to explain or prevent such tragedies from happening again.
It’s reassuring to know that we can indeed turn to a gentle and familiar voice from our childhoods. A voice that provides not only comfort, but a plan of action. Years before the tragedy in Connecticut, our good friend Mr. Rogers explained, “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.”
Looking for the helpers may be a balm for our aching hearts. 24-hour news cycles and social media often exacerbate the pain we feel from these tragedies by rehashing the timeline of events, belaboring the story’s details and delving too deeply into the lives of the perpetrators and victims. But if we look for the people who have helped – Connecticut law enforcement and EMTs rushing to aid, friends, family and clergy rallying around each other, and those people around the world who work for peace every day in millions of ways – we can begin to remember that there are people, lots of people, who help and nurture. In the face of disaster, there is still love and hope in the world and it is our job to look for and promote it.
To the families and friends affected by this devastating loss, we at the Peace Study Center send love and prayers to you now and for the weeks to come.
For information on helping children cope with tragedy in the news, please visit:
Mr. Roger’s website:
How to talk to children about shootings:
Shelly Clay-Robison has served on the PSC Board since 2009 and is also the Board Secretary. Shelly’s career has been in international humanitarian and human rights advocacy and activism and much of her work has been in writing, research, and communications. She also has experience in cross-cultural education work in Australia and Dominica. Shelly has a B.A. in anthropology from American University and a graduate certificate in Conflict Transformation from the University of North Florida where she researched and co-wrote a paper titled, “Peace Education in Children’s Literature,” presented at the AERA annual conference. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Negotiations and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore.