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103: Look for the Children: Mister Rogers and Decision-Making


I'm emily P Freeman and welcome to the next right thing. You're listening to episode one. Oh three this is a podcast all about making decisions and it's also a podcast about making life sometimes decision making is a straightforward choice between two things. Those things may be both great things both not great things or maybe one is greater than the other but the choice is always nuanced and it's not always as simple as it seems it should be but then there are other times where choices are clouded by the personality and demeanor of other people where this one thing looks great on the surface. But you know the. The situation isn't so simple and you wonder how to move forward in a situation. Clouded by interpersonal conflict or relational tension view can relate listening true story. When I was little I thought Mr Rogers was was talking directly to me? I watched his children's program on public television and at the time I wouldn't have thought to mention that I thought he was talking directly trek to me. I wouldn't have thought to say that any more than I would have pointed out that my own mother was talking directly to me whenever she told me was time for dinner because it seems so obvious. Like saying you know the sky is blue and I have two feet. I mean he was looking me and I from my TV. He was asking me questions and he was teaching me about the world. Who else would he be talking to? I simply can't imagine growing up without him and Lady Apper Lynn King Friday and Prince Tuesday. If my preschool years had a theme song it would be almost dissonant rushing tones of the trolley car as it travelled from Mr Rogers living room to the neighborhood of make believe I recently read on. The show's website that the musical director for Mister Rogers neighborhood Johnny Costa said children have ears and their people and they can hear. You're good music as well as anybody else. So I started right from the beginning playing for them as I would for any adults will that posture of playing music for children as he would would for adults. That's a thread that ran constant throughout the entirety of Mister Rogers neighborhood the show aired from February of nineteen sixty eight through August of two two thousand one over thirty one seasons and nearly nine hundred episodes but when we were children we didn't know the intention behind the show for those of us who watched him MM faithfully. We simply knew it felt like home to watch Mr Rogers take off his jacket and put on that sweater to trade. His dress shoes for tennis shoes whilst singing about what a beautiful all day. It was in the neighborhood as for me when he said I was special. I believed him. He made it okay to feel sad. Scared angry or confused Fred. Rogers pastored me in his unique kind and gentle way in a world where gentleness is often confused with weakness. It's important to point out the difference. Mr Rogers may have been gentle but he was certainly not week in fact he started his show because he was deeply frustrated with children's programming and he wanted to do something about it in an interview with CNN. In nineteen ninety nine Rodgers said. I went into television because I hated it. So and I thought there's some way of using this fabulous instrument tournament to nurture those who would watch and listen. How interesting to me that? The thing that compelled gentle Fred Rogers into television was frustration. It's interesting but it's not surprising. Frustration is actually the starting point for all meaningful change. We've ever made any of us. It's also the beginning of meaningful work. That certainly was true for Fred. Rogers I think one reason why Mr Rogers still fascinates US besides the fact that he was a calming presence for us as kids. Kids is we marvel at not only what he did but how he did it. He went into children's programming because he was frustrated without terrible it was he was reformer wanting to use this medium for good rather than for ridiculous can still his demeanor on the show was never wanNA frustration but of unruffled peace kindness and relentless gentleness last week I read an article journalist Tom Gino wrote for the Atlantic about his friendship with Mr Rogers. That's a friendship. That is the basis for the movie. A Beautiful Day in the neighborhood starring. Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in the article. He references a time when some doctors asked. What if Fred Rogers would write a manual to teach them how to talk to children but because of a schedule he asked for help from a woman who is extremely knowledgeable in child development? Gina wrote that she worked hard on the peace including all her child development knowledge and hard earned perspective in the field but when she handed it to Fred Rogers he crossed out the words of her educated introduction and replaced it with these six words. Instead you were. A child wants to several years ago. While I was was working on a series for my blog I ended up spending a few hours. Rummaging through different videos of various thought leaders business owners and entrepreneurs and then there were also some other people who've made their living providing goods and services for the public after a while listening to these experts. Talk about their work was disheartening. If I'm honest they were smart capable successful people but in these particular videos I ran across. There's also a sense of arrogance of better than Bounus that somehow they made it to the top because they're just the best and the people that help them get their well they were irrelevant at best. Well as these things go. I continued clicking around the Internet as one does and I ended up watching another video within that same hour. This time of Fred. Rogers it was nineteen ninety-seven and he was receiving a lifetime achievement award at the the Emmy's in the video he gave his speech. And I'm going to quote what he said. So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here summer. Far Away some are even heaven. All of us have special ones. who have loved us into being? Would you just take along with me. Ten seconds to think think of the people who have helped you become who you are those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you and life ten seconds of silence all watch the time and then there were ten seconds of silence in his moment of receiving an award for his life. Work he allowed. Ten seconds of silence went on national television holding space for the viewer to remember those who have cared for and wanted what was best for them in life. Here's what ten seconds of silence. Silence feels like whomever you've been thinking about. Mister Rogers said when ten seconds had passed how pleased they must be to know the difference. You feel they've made all of these people in the videos I watched were famous. Talented an expert. In fact we run across people every day. Some some we see eye to eye with some who seem pudding. Some who draw us in and when we're making decisions these people they don't go away. We don't make decisions in an empty room. Were always surrounded by some who endear us some who bother us and others who are bothered by us the words of my Angelo Angelo. Come immediately to mind when she said I've learned that people will forget what you said people will forget what you did that people will never forget how you you made them feel. The feeling I had after watching. Most of those videos was significantly different than the feeling I had after watching Fred Rogers for the former the world is one of scarcity where only the expert need apply for the latter. The world is one of abundance. Where even when you win win an award for your own achievements you can choose to make that moment about everyone else? Mr Rogers generosity reached far beyond a TV show and more importantly far beyond himself. But as I say these words I know one thing to be true. And that's that even as I praise Fred Rogers here. The truth is I don't think he would've ever drawn the same conclusion. I have about these other entrepreneurs and himself instead he would simply say they were a child. Wants to what Mr Rogers taught us is that the dignity of a person is not dependent upon anything except the fact that they exist and are made in the image of God his his or her attitude opinions political affiliation Education Race Gender or even their words or actions are not the defining factor of their person even if we disapprove or disagree even if the person is arrogant ignorant or annoying even if the person does things differently than we would do again. Tom Gino for the Atlantic. Says this Fred was a man with a vision and his vision was of the Public Square. A place full of strangers strangers transformed by love and kindness into something like a neighborhood that vision depended on civility on strangers. Feeling welcome in the Public Square. And an so civility couldn't be debatable. It couldn't be subject to politics but rather had to be the very basis of politics along with everything else worthwhile. Well another phrase Mr Rogers is known for is this one look for the helpers. He says it's what his mother told him when he was younger as a way to help him mm process when very bad things happened in the world in times of uncertainty. It's good to not only see the bad things but to look for the helpers but over the years when tragedy tragedy strikes in our country and around the world that's a phrase not that were telling children but that adults often share in repeat to one another providing a ray of light comfort in a dark and heavy world. Watch for those who are helping we say but it's important to remember as many have pointed out over the years. That advice was what a mother told her young son. That's advice Fred. Rogers repeated and gave to young children. We are not children. We are the GROWNUPS and while it's comforting comforting for us to look for the helpers. It's vital that we as the GROWNUPS learned to be the helpers and so while we tell our children to look for the helpers we the helpers can look for the children not just the small ones around us but the hidden ones within each Other Look For the Child oiled in the person across the political aisle in the brother who you can't get along with the customer refuses to Bend in the partner who won't won't see it your way in the person on the other side of the jail cell. Look for the child behind the eyes of your opponent. Your teenager your spouse your boss. Your Uber driver look for the Child. And the person who disagrees with you. Who stands against you offense? You look for the child when you can't seem to come to a resolution when your family differences are so strong you can't see strait when the list making and the round and circle conversations conversations don't seem to be getting you anywhere. Look for the child in them. You don't have to embrace them. Befriends them or even trust. Yeah but God invites you to see them as he does and to regard them accordingly we can still have safe boundaries. But we don't don't have to let hate when when you're trying to explain sad hard things young humans when you don't know what to say or how to say it quite right. Don't forget forget you were a child wants to as you discern your next right thing in the presence of God and other people may remember to look for the children in the people around you and be kind to the child within. Thanks for listening to episode one of three of the next right thing. I've been wanting to do an episode about Mister Rogers for a long time now and after reading that article by Tom. Gino I was compelled to keep the conversation. tation going really. This episode is just an invitation for you to read that article written for the Atlantic. It's long and it's very good a link to it or you can search for it. It's called called Mr Rogers enduring wisdom. I still haven't quite said what I want to say about this man. So maybe I'll work on another episode. because the way Fred Rogers moved through the world was was kind and gentle but also counter cultural in that he was fierce he was almost aggressively gentle refusing to let people off the hook from displaying the image of God in the world just because he may have disagreed with them. We don't get to write people off and that is not always a message. We like to hear when it comes to making decisions. We all know. It's rare if ever that we make them in a room by ourselves. Our decisions impact people are influenced by people are subject to judgement and opinions by people opinions that we may or may not like but for better or worse. We're made for community and Fred. Rogers reminds me no matter what decisions I make make always see people as much as possible as ones made in the image of God and so it helps to remember. We were child. Wants to well as always you can find me. Emily Freeman dot com or on instagram. My favorite social platform at Emily Freeman inclosing. Surprise surprise. Here are a couple more words from Tom about his friend. Fred Rogers. He wanted us to remember what it was like to be a child so that he could talk to us. He wanted to talk to us so that we could remember what it was like to be a child and he could talk to anyone leaving that if you remembered what it was like to be a child you would remember that. So you were a child Thanks for listening. And I'll see next

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