Blame Mr. Rogers.
Yesterday, the trailer for the Fred Rogers biopic film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, premiered. As of this morning, it was viewed over 4 million times.
Do you think our world needs Fred Rogers?
The 2018 documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” captured who Mr. Rogers was and why and how he created a movement of kindness and love.
At a time in our nation’s history when there is great division, where this is hate and hurt, the legacy of Mr. Rogers resurfaces as his call for kindness echoes from the past and into our hearts.
Recently, I felt the slight impact of this division. I was called a snowflake on social media, a term meant to be an insult. It wasn’t the first time I was called a snowflake, and surely it will not be the last.
Here is how Wikipedia explains the term:
Snowflake is a 2010s derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions. Common usages include the terms special snowflake, Generation Snowflake, and snowflake as a politicized insult.
Friends approached me with anger and disgust upon reading the comment on social media, but my response was one of gratitude. I took the label as a compliment. I see it as the direct impact and legacy of Mr. Rogers.
You see, I, like so many other “snowflakes,” spent time in front of a television as a small child where Fred Rogers invited me into his home. He taught all of us many things, but most of all, he taught us how to be kind. Give yourself ten minutes to watch this compilation to remember.
We were told that we were unique and special, just like a snowflake.
We were taught how to be compassionate and sensitive to others. As a result, we shine a little brighter-like a snowflake.
So when we speak up against what does not feel right, Mr. Roger’s taught us that.
When we see racial injustice, and all injustices, we respond with love, just like Mr. Rogers.
When we respond to the call of God’s love, a love modeled by generations of spiritual leaders and teachers, we do as Mr. Rogers did with his one, precious life.
We work hard, contrary to some belief. We believe in equality, fairness, and peace. Some would say we are easily offended. Some others, including Mr. Rogers I believe, would say we are unapologetically human.
As Mr. Rogers is to blame for these generations of snowflakes, so are many other people.
When Mr. Rogers received the lifetime achievement award in 1997, he invited the audience in the theatre and those watching from home to take 10 seconds of silence to recall and thank the people who made them who they are- you can watch the short speech here.
I did this exercise in preparation for this reflection, and I am blessed to have run out of time. I needed many more seconds to thank those who left an impact on me and to blame them for making me the sensitive, compassionate, loving human being that I attempt to be each and every day.
Among those mentioned is Mr. Rogers, and many family, friends, teachers, and spiritual leaders. I even recalled and thanked those who have called me a snowflake in the past (plus other insulting terms that were not coming from their best self).
You see, Mr. Rogers taught me that too.
He helped me recognize the community in which I belong. So for those who may not be kind to me this day, perhaps I can leave them with a small reminder of how to be kind too. Surely in the past, others have reminded me of this message along the way.
In closing, here are some quotes to reflect on from the leader of the pack, Mr. Rogers, so that you may join me and the countless others who are ruined by this message of kindness and love:
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.
There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.
Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.