What would Mister Rogers do?

Today marks Mister Rogers 92ndbirthday, and as I walk around outside following the recommended social distancing parameters, I can’t help but wonder how Mister Rogers would have handled this Pandemic situation.  How would he have explained the current state of affairs as he welcomed the millions of people from around the world into his home and neighborhood?  Would he have sung a song? Demonstrated proper social distancing? Perhaps he would have talked about the fear and uncertainty that we are feeling in an honest and vulnerable way. It warms my heart to think of how this wonderful man would have brought the world together, and shown how we could learn and grow even amongst the chaos. For now, because he is no longer with us, words of wisdom from the man himself that could help us all in this world of unknowns.

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”

It’s as if the world just played a real successful game of 52 pick up and now we are left with the task of putting all the 52 cards of different suits and colors back together. Together we can accomplish this task, however, we have to find ways to cope with the stress that has been created.  In life, we tend to make simple things complex, and although the state of affairs is by no means simple, the act of listening is a simple way that we can help people to feel heard and understood.

“How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?”

Many people of the world are sharing in the hope that this crisis is a way to recalibrate the way we live in this world. That through the forced self-isolations and social distancing that we will learn to appreciate the normal mundane moments of everyday life. Perhaps we will live less haphazardly, constantly racing for the next best thing, the glitz and the glam; perhaps instead we will learn to look at “regular” things with a renewed sense of wonder. Instead of complaining about snow in April, maybe we will choose to play in it instead; catching a snowflake on the tip of your tongue, or starting an impromptu snowball fight like we did as kids.

“I think it’s very important – no matter what you may do professionally – to keep alive some of the healthy interests of your youth”

As the current parents of the world become the new teachers of the world, as schools remain closed, and the learning returns home, many may find themselves crafting in ways they only did as a kid. Creating shapes out of the forgotten book of craft paper, or getting messy with the almost dried up paints and brushes found in the back closet. Perhaps this time at home will teach us all to rediscover our inner child, learning that play is not just for kids, but an activity that we should continue to do until the day we die.  And as Mister Rogers said, “Children’s play is not just kids’ stuff. Children’s play is rather the stuff of most future inventions.” Who know what we may come up with as we play in this time of solitude.

“Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn’t have to be a lonely kind of thing.”

I think Mister Rogers would have focused a large segment of his show on the new term ‘social distancing’ that has come out of this pandemic. He would have shared ways that we could still find ways to feel connected even while spending more time alone. Whether through phone calls, old fashioned mail, or simply waving hello from across the street.  Mister Rogers would have taught us ways to maintain a sense of community even across the 6ft of recommended distance.

“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.”

I think many of our most recent actions would have disappointed Mister Rogers greatly. Whether it would be the fights over toilet paper, the racial stigmatization based on the origin of this virus, or simply the inability to look out for our neighbours. He likely would have shared ways that we could remain kind even when scared. He would have called Officer Clemmons to ensure that he had enough food and supplies. He likely in fact would have even shared the pack of toilet paper he would have bought. Mister Rogers would have likely also taught us ways to forgive those who may not be kind, and shared why they may be acting the way they are. Amongst the chaos Mister Rogers would have reminded us that the only way we will successfully get through this challenging time is to be kind, to ourselves and to our neighbours.

“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.”

These quotes could not be more relevant than right now. This is all of our problem, we all must take responsibility, each and every one of us. The world is asking us to be heroes, simply by staying home. When were you ever given the opportunity to be a hero for doing such a simple thing? Let’s all put on our capes, and save the lives of people near and far by preventing the spread of this virus. It is all our problem. And to those people who work in essential services, who continue to see the need and respond with no questions asked, let’s be sure to celebrate them.  Perhaps we could all be coming together to applaud them as Spain has been doing at 8pm sharp every evening.

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

It truly does feel like the end of the world at times right now, as the statistics of this virus continue to overtake us, and add fuel to the fire of fear.  Ultimately, this pandemic could be the end of us, but it could also be the beginning of the world working together to make sure it’s not the end. In fact, maybe this could be the beginning of a world that lives in a more aware, socially conscious way; where we choose to be kind to complete strangers just because we can, or where we learn that each of our choices has an impact. Perhaps we could live in a world where we see each and every human as a unique being, that plays an important role in making the world a better place. As Mister Rogers said, “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”

So, when you go to bed this evening, wish for that.  A world that knows it’s worth, because the people that inhabit it wholeheartedly know their own worth too.



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