In the aftermath of the horrific attacks on Paris that killed at least 129, people in the city and around the world have grieved and struggled to grasp what it means for the future.

One exchange between a young boy and his father was captured on video and has gone viral. In it, the boy expresses fear because the “bad guys” have guns.

“They might have guns,” the father says, “but we have flowers.”

“But flowers don’t do anything,” the boy responds.

“Of course they do. Look, everyone is putting flowers,” the father says, gesturing toward the memorials growing on the streets.

“It’s to protect?”



Another video that has been popular, at least in the United States, since the attacks is Fred Rogers’ comments about how his mother used to calm him at time of catastrophe.

“You know, my mother used to say — a long time ago, whenever there would be any really catastrophe that was in the movies or on the air — she would say, ‘Always look for the helpers,’” Rogers says.

He adds that it is important for the news media to show the helpers in their coverage of disasters and calamities.

“If you look for the helpers,” he says, “you’ll know that there’s hope.”

These two videos reflect the care and gentleness with which parents must communicate with their children in the face of violence. But adults must pay heed to these words as well.

Since Friday, when Paris was put under siege by terrorists from the Islamic State, highly charged rhetoric has been prevalent, with many people blaming all Muslims for the acts of a few and with many people suggesting that Syrian refugees who are fleeing the Islamic State in their homeland should be barred from other countries.

The times we are living in are complex. And we do not have the answer as to what policies or strategies will thwart terrorism. Yes, we need to be smart and vigilant. But we also need to make sure that we don’t harden ourselves to the point that we lose compassion.

The gentleness of spirit with which we answer the questions of children is something that is vital for adults to be mindful of, too.


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  • Rebecca Foust November 19, 2015 at 2:10 am

    Thank you for this gentle, simple piece to help defuse the all the anger and inflammatory rhetoric. Yes, we must be strong and must oppose terrorism. But not in ways that lead to more hatred and violence.

  • Mickey November 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

    When a friend speaks of the ‘end times’, I think, no, this happens ALL the time. When have humans been peaceful, loving, kind, compassionate toward one another? When I say I don’t believe what the media tells us, who they say are responsible for these attacks, all the violence, my friend says who do you think is responsible? I say I don’t know. But I know money is involved. War, violence, fear, it’s all generating money for someone or some people. I heard a comment on NPR that the media didn’t report on the bombing attacks in Beirut very much where 109 (?) people were killed, many more maimed. What a world.