Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
That simple sentence of “Won’t you be my neighbor?” conjures up the simple song whenever we hear it. Some of us may be too young or old to have watched “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” as children, but those of us in the USA know of him. Currently, the documentary based upon his life is showing in multiple theaters to rave reviews. Many people have told me it brought tears to their eyes. I know I did not see a dry eye in the house as I left the theater. No explanation for the tears will be given here, as everyone should experience a movie without a spoiler.
What could have Mr. Rogers meant by “neighbor?”
Dictionary definitions all concur that a neighbor is someone who lives close by. With this vast universe, how could we all live by Mr. Rogers? The Bible says to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Thus, it is safe to assume Mr. Rogers was implying love towards all as we love ourselves. That’s a heavy concept! For the purpose of analogy, my writing is geared toward those with self love.
Mr. Roger’s Legacy
We already know Fred Rogers promoted tolerance, self esteem and kindness as his legacy. What I did not catch before was that many of his shows were tied in to current events. Without delving directly into those shows, I think of today’s current climate. We are technology driven, which is a great thing, but turns ugly when misused. There are the “keyboard warriors” that feel free to say hurtful things they would not voice in person, political sniping, news media showing the worst of others, people staring at their phones in lieu of conversation, and more.
Then, there is the wonderful side of technology: more access to education, formation of friendships, calls for help being answered, knowledge of the plight of others, promotion of small business…the list goes on. Mr. Rogers used the technology of television to promote what is good in the world. What a trailblazer!
How can we continue the legacy of Fred Rogers?
Fred Rogers did not have just a “children’s show.” His shows send us all a message of tolerance, helpfulness, and world peace. This begins with his message of self esteem. Once we have good self esteem, we are able to help others in many ways. Most of us do help others day to day by offering empathy, smiles and service. That caring touches lives and sends a ripple of goodwill throughout our communities.
How may we send that ripple across the ocean? Think of how peaceful the world could be if we simply understood each other! There are many ways to gain understanding and peace: mission trips, cultural exchange, podcasts, You Tube, books, initiating conversation with those we perceive to be “different,” visiting cultural fairs, etc.
Living the Legacy
I challenge myself and each and every one of us to live the legacy of Fred Rogers! Many mission trips are funded by donations through churches or incentives, such as Evolv Health’s Impact trips. You could host a foreign exchange student through CETUSA, whose mission is reaching out to encourage a lifelong journey of global peace and understanding.” Here is an educational podcast from a woman living a multicultural life: Petronella.. Ted Talks are informative, inspiring videos on many topics. Here are the 5 top Ted Talks on Diversity/mulitculturalism: Ted Talks. Plus, there are a slew of books on Amazon or your local library on a multitude of cultures.
By understanding those that appear to be “different” from us, we learn of our similarities, gain new friendships, and in the case of foreign exchange, a new family member. It starts with the person in the mirror. As Gandhi said ” be the change you want to see in the world.”