During the tragic September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, words Fred Rogers had spoken brought healing to many. Long after his death in 2003, those words have been repeated. After the Sandy Hook massacre that took the lives of 26 people in 2014, most of them little children, his message went viral and was read on television broadcasts. Fred Rogers once lived in the Squirrel Hill area, a few streets away from where the terrible massacre of Jewish people in their synagogue took place — and again his message was repeated in broadcasts:
“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.”
He was a compassionate man, and committed to what would help our country live from the heart. This video HERE is just six minutes long. In that short time, appearing before Congress in 1969, as the creator of the program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” beloved by so many children, what Fred Rogers said persuaded Congress to give an unexpected $20 million dollars in funding to PBS (then called NET) educational television.
The video tells much about how that Congress was able to have a meaningful dialogue with someone whose work had been unknown to them previously. More, it shows a Congress willing to change its mind when presented with something vital and important by a man with integrity — for the children and for the nation. We were in a place where we could at least recognize that there were “so many caring people in the world.”
Such a dialogue could never happen now. We witness zero civility in our current Congress. Even in the face of recent tragedies, its members are focused entirely on themselves — the impact of what they do or say on the rest of the country is the last thing on their minds.
They appear to be scared people, these Congressmen. They are desperate to hold on to their cushy jobs — and make no mistake about it, taxpayers shell out hundreds of millions that are used to keep these Congressmen happy. They are not spending time supporting anything that would improve the education and welfare of our young people. It is not on their radar. The present Congress also seems to have no ability to show empathy for anyone not in their favored circle. It is a group made up largely of men who have lost all perspective on why they were elected, nor do they care. Getting praise from their colleagues matters. Scared to do anything but agree with the president matters — even though the president behaves frequently like a mad dog or else is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I say that as a serious possibility.
The beautiful, quiet words of Fred Rogers show us what we have lost, what we have given away, what we have forgotten. His honesty, truth, and precious way of being are a clarion call to the rest of us to do the same.
We can change for the better what is happening to our country. We can remember to be “comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
It can begin on November 6th, 2018, a path into kindness, into cooperation, into unity. If that is what we want to source into being.