Being a Helper: Reminder from Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers So Many HelpersSometimes I need a reminder that there is all sorts of Good out there. Sometimes I need a reminder that we – me, you, us, them, everybody – are capable of being that Good out there. Really Good. Not the drop-two-dollars-instead-of-one into the busker’s case kind of Good, but the kind where you don’t do a sidelong glance to check that someone noticed kind of Good. Not the making-up-for-some-wrong kind of Good. Just doing the right thing, the better thing. Good.

Between immersing myself in the insanity that is our Gun-Loving Country, attending Town Halls in which my governor talks sweetly to some and condescendingly to others on the same topics of taxes and education, and hearing the troubling plans about the direction in which my town’s schools are heading, I was feeling mighty burnt out last week.

I was trying to figure out what it was I needed from people, especially from myself, to get re-energized, when I read this post about Mr. Rogers.  And I think I now know what is needed. Besides the obvious “We need more people like Fred Rogers,” we just need more people who care about their neighbors. And by neighbors, I mean you. And I mean me. And I definitely mean people you might care about deeply – and those you may not even like.

Basically, I’m hoping that the same idea of “smiling makes you feel happier” can be applied to “doing Good makes the world better.” Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers.” And I think that trying to actually BE more of a helper might adjust an attitude of helplessness, hopelessness, cynicism, disgust. Okay, maybe I don’t *think* so yet, but I sure hope so.

Take a look at this persuasive argument to name Mr. Rogers the Greatest American, and tell me what you think. Can we force qualities of selflessness, integrity, bliss into a loving army of Mr. Rogers clones? Please, let’s at least try.

Sober, but sipping on the yeah write moonshine grid and nibbling at yeah write #101. Check ’em out!


About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
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39 Responses to Being a Helper: Reminder from Mr. Rogers

  1. Erica M says:

    You’ve been busy, but busy doing good things. Are you headed toward a small break any time soon from the things burning you out? Who am I to advise from my couch, but just thought I’d ask.

  2. I agree. And I don’t know what the answer is.. I don’t know what the breaking point has to be for neighbors to be kind to one another anymore. Call me cynical and jaded (gah- how awful) but I see the cruelty of the interwebs (anonymity of Facebook comments, etc) spilling over into real life. People don’t care anymore. For the majority. I think that’s what else I enjoy about hiding over here- even though someone might be saying something cruel- I don’t understand them. Jeez. How awful do I sound?! The key for me is to try and raise 3 people to be the Mr. Rogers- type.

    • And it’s harder to raise kind people than you’d think, right? Now that my son is in Kindergarten, the influences depend on other people’s parenting (OPP!) – and it’s not like I never, ever yell or say less-than-kind things. I hope that it is more about my needing to take a step back from too much information than the world being worse. I don’t think it’s worse; we just know more about what’s going on. I hope.

  3. I have noticed that you’ve been all over and back between the town halls and the gun stuff. I can tell you, as a fellow NJ mom (and even more local than that), that I really appreciate your efforts. I wish I could be out there with you, supporting causes that really matter. I’ve been trying to keep up with all of the information you are putting out and it’s been tough. But know that it is really, deeply appreciated.

    As for Mr. Rogers, I’m always really amazed by him the more I read about him. I wonder if there are still people like that anymore. Really good people who truly care to the extent that he did. I don’t know if I could ever be 5% as good a person as he was.

    Don’t burn yourself out too much. We need you 🙂

    • Thanks for saying so, Michelle! I wasn’t angling for “thanks so much” responses, but it’s appreciated. It’s more of a mental burn-out, which I think is about being over-exposed. Between Steubenville, avoidable gun deaths, attitudes towards education, and so on, it’s just depressing to have to look for the “walk in someone else’s shoes” attitude.

      If I didn’t get burned out from teaching, I think I can handle this. Just at the foot of the roller coaster these days. :p

  4. outlawmama says:

    I appreciate this reminder because it’s full of hope.

  5. Mical Moser says:

    I love this! And I totally agree. It’s easy to feel isolated and burned out. The only way forward I’ve found is to remember that there are people doing interesting and smart and gorgeous and good things out there. And we make ourselves part of all that by keep ourselves busy and focused on things we strongly believe are interesting and smart and gorgeous and good. That’s the hard part for me — keeping myself believing that something I do matters. I have to remind myself that, fundamentally, when I play video games, my day does not feel as good as when I spend it doing work that I care about. And I also appreciate that Mr. Rogers trick of thinking for 10 seconds about people who helped us and cared about us. It makes me feel better partly because I realize that what I do DOES matter to people, and partly because I remember that I’m part of a world with people whom I respect and love. And that feels great. And by the way, Kristin, I love and respect you a lot. xo

  6. I didn’t like watching Mr. Rogers when I was a kid. The “Land of Make Believe” creeped me out. But I certainly appreciate Mr. Rogers as an adult. This is a great tribute to him and a much-needed reminder of the values that he modeled for us all.

  7. Andrea says:

    I love this post. It is a great reminder to stop and realize that “being a helper”. Caring about our neighbors as much as we do ourselves makes the world a bit better for everyone. You have been very busy doing good – hang in there, only a couple weeks until you get to relax at our romantic couples massage 🙂

  8. Stacie says:

    Mr Rogers is awesome. And so are you for being so involved in the community. We all appreciate that. Hope the Good shines through!

  9. Rogue Wino says:

    I miss the innocence and neighborliness that Mr. Rodgers represented. We could desperately use this feeling in our communities today.

  10. Yes, we definitely need more good in the world. Sign me up.

  11. Bee says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I need to start volunteering again.

    • My volunteering gigs are incredibly fulfilling. I work with a senior citizen to take her grocery shopping twice a month – I highly suggest something with seniors if you want to go low-key to start.

  12. Doing Good is one of those things that can never hurt, you know? “Be the change you want to see in the world” and all that jazz. Uplifting post! Love me some Mr. Rogers.

  13. I hope so too. I like your vision for humanity and your humility. Here’s to a Mr. Roger’s revival and a snowball effect from your words. I’ll start …

    • Thanks for the compliment, but I don’t think I’m all that humble. My volunteering gigs are pretty selfish. They make me feel Good, and alleviate some of the “I’m one of the lucky ones” guilt. 🙂

  14. I try to be a helper in my own small ways. This is a lovely reminder of the importance of helpers.

  15. We all need good neighbors, more Mr. Rogers, and a cardigan sweater in our lives. Mr Rogers voice is still one of the most soothing voices I have ever heard. It makes me relax almost instantly. I hope that someday I can bring someone peace like that wonderful man has given me.

  16. iasoupmama says:

    So much good in this. I want to be a helper. I try to be a helper. Right now, life is getting in the way of me doing anything more than caring for my kids and self. But I’m trying to teach them to be helpers. And sometimes it works — my daughter regularly volunteers to help the child in her classroom who uses a walker and my son spent several weeks helping a friend with a broken arm get her coat on and off. Small steps for small people…

  17. Gina says:

    I grew up loving Mr. Rogers. Reflecting on him now is sad. Not because his message is but because we can all do more. Always. The message of doing Good and being kind when no one knows or see is something I’ve pounded (hopefully successfully) into my kids’ heads. Being good is contagious and usually pretty easy and when you’re on a roll…Watch out!!!

    • We have a Kindness Curriculum at my son’s school. I’m not sure how successful it is, but I do know that it’s something to fall back on in times of conflict. The visual reminders in posters and drawings help ALL of us remember that it’s important to 1st – be kind. Thank you for stopping in!

  18. I am from Pittsburgh, which is where Mr. Rogers was taped and where Fred Rogers spend nearly all of his life. Every time I hear his Pittsburgh-laced accent, I calm down immediately. He had that affect on people. He was able to cut through the noise and the chatter and quietly affect change that it would take others a lifetime to accomplish. Every year on his birthday, Pittsburgh declares it “Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day,” which has become a day of service in the city. We would all be better people for embracing a little of his message in our lives. Oh, and you absolutely haven’t lived until you’ve seen the massive bronze sculpture on the banks of one of the Pittsburgh rivers of Mr. Rogers sitting down changing his shoes. It’s just magical.

  19. 50peach says:

    I think we must not lose the hope and the thought that Good still does exist in this world. Yes, there are troubling things afoot, and there always will be. But like you said – maybe if we all focus on being the Good, everything else won’t seem so Bad.

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