"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.'"I've got to hand it to Mr. Rogers, as he always had a way of cutting big stuff down to size and restoring that sense of comfort that seemed to insulate my childhood from the nastiness just outside. Every time something would threaten that delightful cocoon, a little time with him - well, his televised persona - seemed to fix whatever had caused that breach to occur.
Today, these are just words. They do nothing to fix what happened in our nation's capital today. They don't bring back the life of a Canadian soldier, Nathan Cirillo, shot in cold blood as he stood guard at the National War Memorial. They don't undo images of police sweeping through our House of Parliament as deafening gunshots ring out - the police bravely continuing into harm's way, the journalist bravely continuing to shoot the surreal scene.
This is not the Canada I know. Things like this aren't supposed to happen here. Yet, now, they do. And we are forever changed because of it.
Maybe the blissful sense of contentedness that marked my childhood and seemed to extend into my very Canadian adulthood is no longer as blissfully content as it once was. Maybe the outside world - of terrorists, of those who wish us ill because of who we are, of those to whom freedom is something to be hated and forcibly taken away from others instead of protected and aspired to - leaked in today, and we'll never fully sweep it back from where it first came.
But I'll go back to the inimitable words of Mr. Rogers, because there always has to be hope. And despite the growing threat to our sacrosanct freedoms posed by those who seem to play by their own murderous, life-hating rules, tonight I'll tell my kids that they should always look for those who help. And to fashion their own lives so that they, too, will become those individuals who seek to become those helpers, running toward peril, when everyone else would be running for safety.
I'll be talking live with NewsTalk 1010 Toronto's John Moore tomorrow (Thursday morning) at 6:40 a.m. Topic: Technology's role in the events of today, and whether online tools like Google Maps (here's an interactive map of every building on Parliament Hill) made it easy for the gunman.