Those in attendance will know I am getting ahead of myself. What about John? I have enlisted a guest blogger to do justice on John’s report. And said guest blogger is busy doing justice in other ways at the moment. But grab on to your gavels, because it will come!
Those who know me know that I adore Mister Rogers. I tend to avoid topics I already know a lot about. But when I thought about the fact that there are people out there who don’t know the legacy of this man, I realized a report was in order. As fate would have it, my report “coincidentally” fell on the anniversary of his death, which was February 27, 2003. This fueled my passion to give my best and honor him well.
I began by retelling the parable of The Good Samaritan. In short, a well-studied Jewish man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Or rather, “Who am I required to love at this deep level?” After answering his question with the famous parable and saying, “Which of these men was the good neighbor?”–Jesus was really saying, “Don’t ask, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Instead ask, ‘How can I be the good neighbor?'” And what better way to encapsulate the legacy of Fred Rogers than to say he was a man who knew what it meant to be the good neighbor. (“Won’t you be my neighbor?” )
I touched on how he was a good neighbor (primarily his Little Prince-adopted perspective that “what is essential is invisible to the eyes”) as well as his habits and accomplishments (such as swimming daily and attending seminary during his lunch hour). We viewed his famous battle to receive funding for his work, and I quoted this excerpt from Tim Madigan’s book I’m Proud of You:
“Something was at the heart of his greatness. It was his unique capacity for relationship, what Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod once called ‘a fearlessness, an unashamed insistence on intimacy.’ That was true with almost every person he met, be it television’s Katie Couric or a New York City cabdriver; the Dalai Lama or the fellow handing out towels at the health club where Fred went to swim. Fred wanted to know the truth of your life, the nature of your insides, and had room enough in his own spirit to embrace without judgment whatever that truth might be.”
I closed the power-point presentation with this touching video: