This is a day in the neighborhood when we could use some wisdom from Fred Rogers, who grew up a few blocks away from the Pittsburgh synagogue that was the scene of the latest American mass shooting.
Here is a sampler of Mr. Rogers’ gentle wisdom assembled by Chris Higgins.
“Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression."
“It always helps to have people we love beside us when we have to do difficult things in life.”
“Peace means far more than the opposite of war!”
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
“Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It's something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength and other words – like aggression and even violence. Real strength is neither male nor female; but is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that any human being can possess.”
And from the speech Fred Rogers gave in 1999 when inducted into the Television Hall of Fame:
“Fame is a four-letter word; and like tape or zoom or face or pain or life or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it.
I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. It doesn't matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen – day and night!
The conductor of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl grew up in a family that had little interest in music, but he often tells people he found his early inspiration from the fine musicians on television.
Last month a 13-year-old boy abducted an eight-year-old girl; and when people asked him why, he said he learned about it on TV. 'Something different to try,' he said. 'Life's cheap; what does it matter?'
Well, life isn't cheap. It's the greatest mystery of any millennium, and television needs to do all it can to broadcast that ... to show and tell what the good in life is all about.
But how do we make goodness attractive? By doing whatever we can do to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own--by treating our 'neighbor' at least as well as we treat ourselves and allowing that to inform everything that we produce.
Who in your life has been such a servant to you...who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let's just take 10 seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life – those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight – just 10 seconds of silence.
No matter where they are – either here or in heaven – imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now.
We all have only one life to live on earth. And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways."