Fred Rogers "We Are All Neighbors"


Who doesn't love Mister Rogers? Here's something he says from his book (Click the link if you'd like to purchase the book. It's excellent. From The World According to Mister Rogers: Important things to Remember.


Chapter "We Are All Neighbors"


"I've had lots of heroes--lots of people I've wanted to be like. To this day, I can still feel the excitement in 1944 as I opened the first installment of my Charles Atlas exercise course. I had saved my money ($19.00) and had sent away for those lessons that I thought would help me look like Atlas himself holding up the world. In 1944, I was a chubby and weak sixteen-year-old, and Charles Atlas was trim and strong. I did the exercises every morning--some of them even had me hanging on a bar at a doorjamb. Many months and many lessons later, I still didn't look like Charles Atlas. Now, happily, I don't need to.


Maybe it's natural, especially when we're little and feel weak, to choose "outside" kinds of heroes and superheroes who can keep us safe in a scary world.


My next hero was a "big man on campus" in our high school: Jim Stumbaugh. He could do anything. A letterman in basketball, football, and track, he made all A's. Both of his parents were teachers, but his dad died during our freshman year. Who knows? Maybe that made Jim sensitive to the needs of a shy kid like me. At any rate, we beat the odds and became lifelong friends. Many years after high school when Jim's teenage son was killed in an automobile accident, I was there for him. The way he lived through that terrible time and the way he lived through his own years of cancer confirmed my pick of a hero. Jim started out looking like Charles Atlas, ended up looking like Mahatma Gandhi. What's amazing to me is that he always acted like that peace-filled Gandhi.


Yes, Gandhi's one of my heroes... Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer and Jane Addams (that tireless advocate of internationalism and world peace), and Bo Lozoff (who helps inmates us their time well in prison). Other heroes are Yo-Yo Ma and everyone else who cares about beauty and refuses to bow to fast and loud sensationalism and greed. Recently I've added an "unknown hero" to my list: the person who drives the car I saw the other day, the parked car with the flashing lights and the sign that reads, "Vintage Volunteer--Home Delivered Meals."


So those are some of my heroes now: the Charles Atlases of my elder years! They're the kind of people who help all of us come to realize that "biggest" doesn't necessarily mean "best," that the most important things of life are --inside-- things like wonder and love, and that the ultimate happiness is being able sometimes, somehow to help our neighbor become a hero too."

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's leader-in-exile. The Dalai Lama works tirelessly for human rights worldwide and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.


"If we looked down at the world from space, we would not see any demarcations of national boundaries. We would simply see one small planet, just one. Once we draw a line in the sand, we develop the feeling of "us" and "them."


In a sense the concept of "us" and "them" is almost no longer relevant, as our neighbor's interests are ours as well. Caring for our neighbors' interest is essentially caring for our own future. Today the reality is simple. In harming our enemy, we are harmed.


When we face problems or disagreements today, we have to arrive at solutions through dialogue. Dialogue is the only appropriate method. One-sided victory is no longer relevant. We must work to resolve conflicts in a spirit of reconciliation and always keep in mind the interests of others. We cannot destroy our neighbors! We cannot ignore their interests! Doing so would ultimately cause us to suffer. I think that the concept of violence is now unsuitable. Nonviolence is the appropriate method.


Nonviolence is not merely the absence of violence. It involves a sense of compassion and caring. It is almost a manifestation of compassion. I strongly believe that we must promote such a concept of nonviolence at the level of the family as well as the national and international levels. Each individual has the ability to contribute to such compassionate nonviolence."

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Copyright - Piper Selden. All rights reserved.

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