'Kindness and Wonder' -- To be like Mister Rogers, be 'deep and simple'

'Kindness and Wonder' -- To be like Mister Rogers, be 'deep and simple'
Source: Reusableart.com

In Gavin Edwards’ book “Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever,” the first way to “Live More Like Mister Rogers Right Now” may look contradictory: “Be deep and simple.”

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” remember, was aimed at very young children — those who had a deep need for answers that very few adults are any good at simplifying.

Edwards tells a story of a sermon that Fred Rogers — yes, he had a first name — heard as a seminary student. Trying to apply what he was learning, Rogers sat judging the preacher, later saying “I heard nothing but the faults.”

But the lady beside her whispered through tears that she’d heard just what she needed.

Edwards wrote that this was how Mister Rogers developed his view that there was “holy ground” between a communicator and a listener, or even a TV viewer. Rogers explained communication in what Edwards called “two poetic lines: ‘We speak with more than our mouths. We listen with more than our ears.’ ”

Another “aphorism,” to use Edwards’ word, shows Rogers’ “deep and simple” approach:

“Try your best to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.”

This way of presenting truths he’d learned, writes Edwards, helped Mister Rogers “slice through the complexities of the modern world.”

“He lived his life the same way he spoke, cutting the distractions and fripperies so he could focus on what was important,” Edwards added.

So try, deeply and simply, to make goodness attractive this week. Think of the time Edwards tells about when Mister Rogers was asked to add to a display at Hallmark’s New York City flagship store. His addition wasn’t flashy, of course. It was a small, plain pine tree with a plaque that had a deep, simple message: “I like you just the way you are.”

Have a good week, neighbors.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

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  • A welcome contrast to our frivolous, complicated, multitasking times. Thank you!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    You're very welcome.

  • Assignment accepted! Thank you for this, Margaret.

  • In reply to rsupinger:

    You're welcome, rsupinger. Thanks for taking on the assignment. I'm sure you'll do well.

  • In a way, this is similar to the corporate rule "put it positively instead of negatively." As an example, after overhearing someone at the fitness desk tell a telephone caller "we close at 6," I invoked the rule and said "the proper phrase is that we are open until 6." Similarly, when someone on the condo board said "My 40 year old daughter..." I said "that's not right. The correct term is 'my 24 year old daughter.' That makes both of you look better.'"

    There was even a similar discussion on sports talk radio, to the effect of "The Bears talked about everything wrong about Mahomes and Watson, but only the good about Mitch, and see where that got them."

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, the 24-for-40 change might get you into trouble about accuracy (which I, and others, see as better). But thanks for another fun contribution.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    The person to whom I directed seemed a bit startled after the first sentence, but had no objection at the end,

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    It also would be inconsistent with your next post on being kind. It wouldn't have done me any good to say "you look pretty good for being at least 64."

  • In reply to jack:

    I appreciate your consistent reading, Jack.

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