Reflections of a poet, preacher, and contemplative activist

Look for the helpers

27116_10151347053856954_40812581_nOur nation is saddened by the tragedy that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon today. It is a reminder that there is evil in the world and that innocent people often suffer because of it.

When my children were young and 9/11 occurred, I remember holding them close knowing that something changed that day. A sense of vulnerability to the whims of ideologically driven terrorism shook me. A feeling that this world in which I was raising my children had become even less safe saddened me.

As I write this post, among the three confirmed deaths is one 8-year-old boy. Well over a hundred people were injured. As I processed what happened today, I was helped by what some people posted on social media.

Singer James Taylor wrote, “Bostonians are rightly proud of our Marathon. It is a uniquely American event that opens its arms to the world. Any and all are welcome: men and women, able-bodied and disabled, young and old across the races and religions of the planet. That anyone could target this celebration of global family is impossible to conceive.”

A popular quote by well-known TV personality Fred Rogers circulated today: “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.”

Performer Patton Oswalt wrote, “If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people (who caused this), that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. … This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. …

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’”

Poet Jelaluddin Rumi, many centuries ago, wrote,

A dragon was pulling a bear into its terrible mouth.
A courageous man went and rescued the bear.

There are such helpers in the world,
who rush to save
anyone who cries out. Like Mercy itself,
they run toward the screaming.

And they can’t be bought off.
If you were to ask one of those, “Why did you come
so quickly?” He or she would say, “Because I heard
your helplessness.”
Mathnawi II, translated by Coleman Barks in Delicious Laughter

Finally, as a person of faith, the words my Bishop, Minerva Carcaño, posted today resonated with me: “This is an opportunity for all of us to be in holy conversation with our God, with each other, with our neighbors, and with our children about violence in the world. We live in a time in which we can raise our voices for peace and commit to being peacemakers in the world, the very peace of Christ Jesus. May Christ the Prince of Peace be with us.”


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  1. Betty Cross

    Those affected personally today will not be forgotten!

  2. Thanks, Mark! Beautifully written as usual. It is important to hang on to the truth that the good outnumbers the evil.

  3. sandra

    In all the evils of this world we must hold onto our faith…God’s will be done and peace will prevail for all eternity!

  4. I turned on the news this morning to be greeted with the news of the Boston Marathon bombings. With a weight in my heart, I found this message of hope, of peace and strength. And indeed I am reminded that for every evil act that is done, a hundred acts of goodness is being carried out. For every blot of darkness, good men shine. Thank you Mark. Sharon

  5. jane

    You are a helper, too, running towards this horror with words. Thank you. It does help.

  6. Hi Mark, I thought this was a beautiful and insightful post and I referenced you and it in my Patheos Spirituality post titled “Where is God When Evil Happens?”. You can see it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wakeupcall/2013/04/where-is-god-when-evil-happens/
    Thank you for the inspiration, as you will see it caused me to bring out an old post I had written and set aside. ~Tom

  7. Thank you Mark for bringing your inner light and love to this dark and hurtful event. As lovely Sharon put it so well, this is a message of hope, peace, and strength.
    With deep gratitude, Gina


  1. Where is God when evil happens? | Wake Up Call
  2. Where is God when evil happens? | The Inner Way

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