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10 Things I Learned from Mr Rogers November 23, 2016

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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I grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Which means I was at least 3 or so in 1968, when it first came on the air.  Or, um, I was three or so when I was able to watch, whenever I started, sometime between 1968 and 2001, when Mr. Rogers went off the air.  At that young an age, I could at least listen and comprehend, in my 3 or so years old way, that something interesting was on the television.  I laughed when Mr. Robinson (Eddie Murphy) came on and kind of mocked the show with a take of his own, envisioned somehow through his own neighborhood’s eyes.  But looking back now, that was kind of a sad social commentary.

Today I was reminded of the life-lessons I took from Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, when a facebook friend said, in a sad political and social commentary, that “Mr. Rogers didn’t adequately prepare me for the people in my neighborhood.”

The sad side of this is the true side.

The true side of this coin she tossed is that Mr Rogers met neighbors who were neighborly and friendly and rational.  His neighborhood had nice people:  the mailman, the delivery man, the repairman, the policeman, the chef, the neighbor.  And many other regular neighbors and guests  He didn’t meet the selfish, the judgmental, the hateful, the angry, the bitter, the unpatriotic, the terrorist.  Well, not always.  Whenever he did meet someone who wasn’t on their best behavior (I might have seen one or two puppet characters behaving badly, or he might have read a letter about how to handle someone like that), there were gentle, loving life lessons to correct the behavior, like one might have seen in Mayberry:

I think sidewalk bike riders and other law-breakers are all  the same.  It’s just the degree of offense.  When caught early, and corrected, anti-social behavior grows up to become law-abiding, society contributing, helpful behavior.  When allowed to continue, anti-social behaviors grow up to be bigger anti-social behaviors.  Sometimes it’s not a parent’s fault.  Sometimes the kid is just that sneaky, they get away with it once and then do it again, the second time, bigger.  Sometimes it is a parent’s fault.  Sometimes the parent doesn’t offer any corrective words when appropriate, or other measures, when they may be appropriate.  A kid sometimes picks the wrong people to be friends with.  And sometimes, it’s just the kid growing up to be a worse version of their parent(s).

This is about to be a gentle, political, rant.  There’s a little x on the top left of your screen, you can click it now if you don’t want to hear it.  If you didn’t like my comment about parenting, or about your innocent, sweet little hoodlum, you probably won’t like the next sections, fair as they may be.  [x].  Before I upset you.  I’ve thought this out and so any responses will be appreciated, but not necessary.  If you like it, fine, if you don’t, also fine, but critical remarks will not be acknowledged.

Clinton said a lot of good things about her plans for America.  She has experience in the political arena and is used to brokering deals with foreign authorities.  The deals haven’t always been great for America, but she did what she did in the service of her country, and even Trump acknowledged her contributions and labors for America.  She also has a history of involvement in several scandals, from Watergate to Benghazi-gate to email-gate to the illegal trade of $400M for four out of 8 hostages being held by Iran.  The trade, though illegal wasn’t as bad as the trade of 5 Afghani Taliban terrorist prisoners for one deserter who shall be nameless because his name isn’t worth mentioning.  All these scandals were known to Democrats and they still couldn’t offer us a candidate  worth voting for.   Those who voted for her felt the scandals could be overlooked in the interest of promoting a candidate who had experience and could continue the mode and policies of the present President.  Like the bike riding kid, she got away with a lot of things, from way back in the 70s, and possibly earlier, through to recent history, earning reputation, power, and fame, and it only grew until she was the Democrats’ pick for President.

Trump said a lot of good things about his plans for America.  While not particularly politically savvy, he has experience in the business arena and is apparently a good deal broker.  The deals haven’t always been great for the other side, but Trump seemed to come out all right, so if he’s dealing for America, for all of America, maybe he’ll make us come out on top.  He also has a history of difficulty controlling his mouth.  He’s brutally honest, he talks $#!+, he thinks he’s THE $#!+, as the saying goes.  If he doesn’t like you, you know it.  If he likes you, either you’ll know it right away, or the tape will be released after it’s too late to choose a better Republican candidate.  He’s a little bit of a primate.  If he thinks you’re hot, he’ll let you know.  And apparently, some well hidden women, at least hidden or kept quiet until it was too late to choose a better Republican candidate, finally told America that Trump liked them a LOT more than they liked him, and took it upon himself to demonstrate those feelings physically.  We hope they were just a political ploy to divert votes to Clinton.  It would be disappointing, but not surprising.  Those who voted for him felt the stupidity could be overlooked in the interest of promoting a candidate who promised to NOT continue the mode and policies of the present President.  Like the bike-riding kid, he talked a lot of sass and got away with it from real estate to Miss America to Trump University, earning reputation, wealth, power and fame until he became the Republican President Elect.

You may have guessed, rightly, that neither one of these two were, in my opinion, the best candidate for President.  But the Electoral College has spoken, presumably, and Donald is headed for the White House.  Neither of these two candidates would have fared well if people had paid attention to some lessons I learned from Mr Rogers.

10)  There’s a yellow flashing light right at the beginning.  If you paid attention, when you grew up you might remember it.  And flashing yellow lights mean to be cautious, and pay attention.  In my opinion, voters threw caution to the wind when voting for either of these two.  We Americans should have exercised more wisdom, greater caution, in selecting our candidates from both parties.
9) The next thing you see is a sign that says “Hi.”  Even though you’re cautious, be friendly.  In the theme song at the very beginning, Mr Rogers reaches out in an offer of friendship.  Even though he’s asking if the listener will be his neighbor, the song conveys an unspoken offer, that the singer will be a neighbor, if the invitation is accepted.  Our candidates traded volleys of insults, verbal jabs, rude interruptions, and if we were looking for a person offering friendship, these two don’t measure up.
8) “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s clear and bright or rainy and cloudy or grey and snowy.  The rain provides drinking water, never a bad thing.  The rain also helps plants grow, to provide food.  The snow also provides water for the earth, and the cold makes the best bread flour, and otherwise gives the earth a season of rest.  The clouds protect us from solar radiation.  And bright sunny days help our emotions, and provide vitamins, and are catalytic for plant growth during warm seasons. And we’re alive, and if we’re neighbors, we have each other for support and encouragement.  That’s how it’s supposed to be, anyway.  Our candidates and our media were all overly critical of what was bad about the candidates, instead of talking about whatever good things there were to say about them.  Even at the local level, the campaigns were so negative it was difficult to choose because every ad for every candidate I watched only talked about how bad the other guy was, and not about the good things they stood for.  I strongly disliked the negative campaigns.  I want to hear what you stand for, not what you stand against, and I want to hear what makes you a good candidate, not what makes the other person bad.
7) Mr. Rogers puts away his jacket in the closet.  We’d all do well to put away our things when not in use.  I lose things all the time, when I don’t put them where they belong.  He also takes off his shoes, or his rain boots, and puts on house shoes, to avoid tracking in mud or dirt from outside.  These habits minimize cleanup.  Not putting away now, when it takes a second, leads to a mountain of cleanup that takes a long time to process later.  Same with correcting behavior- earlier is much easier than later.  We voters need to see the dirt early and choose clean candidates, like clean shoes, and discourage the muckraking that always seems to shade the last stage of the campaigns.  Disclosure and not coverup would give us the cleanest possible candidates.  If you did something bad, unless it’s habitual and you have no intention of changing course, you should confess it, change course, and then do your best.
6) After hanging up his clothes in the closet, he gently closes the door.  He doesn’t leave it open, to be in the way, or slam it in anger.  There was so much anger from both sides of this campaign, if those two lived in the same house there would be nothing but doors slamming.  Hillary wanted to slam the door on anyone who wanted to know what she had really done, which was all of us, and Donald wanted to slam the door on anyone who didn’t believe his campaign promises were realistically possible, which was all of us.
5) While changing shoes, one shoe is playfully tossed into the air from one hand, and then caught in the other hand, with a slight smile near the end of the song.  Ordinary things are what we have, and there’s no reason not to enjoy the ordinary things in life.  If you don’t enjoy your ordinary things, and you don’t enjoy your ordinary life, and do the best you can with the ordinary, you’ll never experience happiness, the surprise of success with simplicity, of honor with humility, even if life gives you more.  I struggle with this lesson.  But I see people who don’t get what they want and they throw a fit in protest, like the kid who lost his bike.  Sometimes in life we hope for better, we hope for more, and life gives us the ordinary to see if we’ll still celebrate.  Trump said he expected to win, and wouldn’t say how he would react if he lost the election.  Clinton was far more gracious in loss than I expected Trump to be. But I hear Clinton supporters being far less gracious than their leader. I also hear about Trump supporters being less interested in building a team, and more interested in gloating. If we’d paid closer attention to the way the candidates spoke, about themselves and about their opponents, we might have done things differently. We voters should look and listen, carefully.

4) When Mr Rogers had a guest, his guest was special.  Did you see what happened, starting at 12:27, and up to 12:33?  Even the fish were special.  “And very beautiful.”  Not just the fish, but the people too.  Mr. Rogers loved the arts, and music of all kinds, and wanted us to know that behind the beauty of the music, were beautiful musicians.  Starting at 14:25, he met the quartet of talented musicians, lovely ladies.  He spoke to them respectfully, and treated them honorably.  This, Donald Trump, is how you speak to, and about, ladies, whether you’re on the record or not.  This, Hillary Clinton, is how to win elections, and how to broker better deals.  No scandal is necessary from a political official.  Only gentleness.  Occasionally firm gentleness when it’s called for, but gentleness.  This, fair candidates, is how you act, and react, when in a position of power.  Did you see Mike Pence’s reaction to being called out for standing for what he believes in?  He was gentle. He took no offense.  Mr. Trump:  do it like that.  Did you even hear one word from Clinton’s running mate during the campaign?

3) Mr. Rogers taught love for everyone.  It was love infused with truth though.  When someone acted improperly, the puppets, usually, Mr. Rogers let them know how what they were doing affected other people’s feelings, and asked them to think about how that would look and feel if it were someone affecting them.    I wish politicians did that.  I wish military leaders, and other people in power, would do that.  I wish criminals would do that.  I wish vandals would do that.  People hurt other people because they are selfish and they don’t care about anyone but themselves.  They want what they want and aren’t thinking about anyone except themselves.  We all need to think about how what we do will affect someone else.  But more than think about it, we need to let those thoughts shape what we say, and what we do.  We have a responsibility to do what we can with what we have to make the world a better place, not just for us, but for everyone.  That is the very essence of truth and love together.

2) Your feelings are OK.  As I said before, people who voted for Trump were worried about Clinton.  People who voted for Clinton were worried about Trump.  It’s OK to feel your feelings, but it’s not OK to let your feelings  motivate reprehensible actions.  It’s OK to voice your concerns calmly and rationally.  Maybe someone else hasn’t thought things through well enough to realize how something might hurt another person.  If we understand other people’s feelings, and we care about other people, we will try to act in such a way as to not deliberately hurt others.

1)  We shouldn’t live for the big moments in life, because they might never come.  Clinton, devastated by losing, is now regrouping and demanding a recount of the votes to make sure she’s fairly treated by the electoral college.  She’s living to be the President, still.  But look at her running mate.  He’s gone back to work.  He’s doing it right.  It’s the little things that add up to the big things.  If you wait until something big happens, you will not be in the right place because you didn’t work at the little things and get yourself moving in the stream toward the big things.  You’ll be left on the riverbank, because you waited and didn’t get in the stream and start swimming.

0) People sometimes make mistakes.  Well, I sometimes make mistakes.  Like ending up with 11 items on a top 10 list.  When people make one mistake, after making it right, at least after apologizing and making it clear the mistake won’t be repeated, maybe the person who was wronged can forgive.  And when I make a mistake, I want to be allowed to learn from it and continue, after making course corrections.  But anyone who doesn’t learn from their mistakes needs natural consequences and friends who will tell them they’re on a bad path.  And needs to be restricted until they learn from their mistakes.  Like the boy in Mayberry whose smart dad sold his bike.  Otherwise he’d have sold out his own father, so who else wouldn’t he hurt as collateral damage in his quest for chaos and power?  Clinton has one scandal after another.  Trump has scandals too.  Those patterns of behavior make neither one my choice.  But in the spirit of the other lessons, and this one,  I’ll do what I’ve done for each president since I learned to do it:  Pray.  I will pray, because our elected leaders need protection, wisdom, and servant hearts, to do their jobs well for all Americans.

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