On Mr. Rogers and honesty and kindness. Everyday tip #74

I love Mr. Rogers. His birthday is coming up -- did you know that? I didn't, but because it is coming up I came across this article on Salon.com about him, and I promptly got sucked into a Mr. Rogers internet wormhole. I had forgotten how much I love Mr. Rogers. From Salon:
Fred Rogers was fearless enough to be kind. Kinder in a single day than many of us can muster up in a week. He wasn’t embarrassed to be gentle; he was never too cool to be simply good. He championed “not buying things, but doing things.” He created the longest-running program in PBS history, and he didn’t do it with mocking or putdowns or smug superiority. He did it by being nice. And nice is incredibly underrated.

I am not one of those people mistakes kindness for weakness, but even I was impressed at how bad ass he was in his kindness. Here he arguing for and getting $20 million in funding for PBS -- I love how he wins over that gruff senator in that gentle and incredibly powerful way of his.


And I kept reading. I read this post from a woman who says she learned how to be a human being from him. I read this amazing article from an Esquire writer who got to know him very intimately. The writer describes one of my favorite Mr. Rogers moment, when he accepted his lifetime achievement Emmy and got Hollywood to shut up and feel,
Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award — and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence."

And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, "I'll watch the time." There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly "May God be with you," to all his vanquished children.

You can see the moment here:



I could never be as innocent as Mr. Rogers. I love that he wouldn't expect me to be; he hated fakes and said, "One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away."

My honest self is imperfect, but certainly works every day at being kind. I'm so grateful for the Mr. Rogers of the world.