On March 22, 2016, more than 30 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Belgium’s capital city, Brussels.

Terrorist organization ISIS claimed responsibility for the destruction.

There’s a famous quote by Fred Rogers about looking for “helpers” amid disaster.

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It can be applied to just about any devastating situation, but it always seems especially poignant after a terrorist attack:

“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.” — Fred Rogers

It’s easy to look at disaster and see the worst in people. It’s easy to question your faith in humanity after such an event. It’s easy to become completely and totally apathetic, to let cynicism win. But if you look closely, you can see the helpers Mister Rogers spoke of.

The response to this morning’s terrorist attack in Belgium is no different: Helpers are out there.

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Using hashtags like #IkWillHelpen (“I want to help”) and #PorteOuverte (“open house”), the people of Brussels offered shelter to those with nowhere to stay.

After the attacks, people were left without housing and without a means to travel elsewhere. This is what makes the #IkWillHelpen and #OpenHouse hashtags such a necessary, loving response in the face of terror. Embracing strangers instead of shunning them will always be the most human response to tragedy.

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Public transportation quickly became overwhelmed, so the helpers of the world did what they could to ensure safe passage.

Cars began picking up strangers at bus stops, giving them rides.

A hashtag popped up for people willing to help organize a carpool.

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Others created tributes to the victims in solidarity with neighboring France, which was struck by an attack last November.

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Politicians around the world weighed in, but two statements stand out in highlighting the importance of compassion, understanding, and, yes, helpers.

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The first comes from U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, praising the helpers of Belgium:

“One of the goals of these terrorists is to drive us apart through fear and hatred. The people of Belgium are reminding us why terror will never succeed. They are providing shelter to tourists and strangers throughout the country, and the hashtag ‘#ikwillhelpen,’ which means ‘I want to help’ in Flemish, is trending throughout Europe.”

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The other is from President Obama, speaking from Cuba:

“We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We will do whatever is necessary to support our ally Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible. We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. We can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”

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Sometimes the world can be a dark place. What’s important is that we don’t forget about the light that follows it.

We can’t fight hate with more hate. We must look to those who refuse to respond out of hatred or vengeance, but instead with a message of love and peace. That’s how humanity wins.

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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