Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Who is my neighbor? Won’t you be my neighbor?
There is no wiser or more inspirational leader who walked this earth than Jesus Christ himself (not surprising coming from a pastor, I know) but there is one person that lived in my lifetime that was both wise and inspired me as a child but moreover as a mature adult. His name was Fred Rogers.
Now as a child, I thought that Mr. Rogers was a kindhearted, slow paced, always fair, nice guy dressed in an ever-evolving wardrobe of cardigans. I recall watching his show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood at an early age but it wasn’t too long after I had entered grade school that I had “outgrown” Mr. Rogers. I moved on to Superfriends and various other cartoons.
As a mature adult, I realize I had made a mistake because the wisdom and kindness and gentleness and loving words of Mr. Rogers isn’t something you ever outgrow, rather it is something that you can only hope you can grow into. Mr. Rogers made an intentional effort to talk about challenging topics of his day such as racism, divorce, violence and death and make it accessible, understandable. He encouraged us to slow down long enough to smell the flowers and see the beauty all around us, not only in nature but also in people. I wonder what wise words Mt. Rogers would have for us today. Perhaps it would be like the words he said around pain and suffering:
“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
I wonder If he would talk about the hard topic of mental health struggles or if he would face the subject of a worldwide pandemic head on and let us know that why we are sacrificing in this time is for the sake of our neighbor. We do this for our neighbor. We do this to bring hope and healing to our neighborhoods. We do this so that those who are compromised have life and have it abundantly. We do this so we can grow as a people and as a civilization. We do this because it is the right and just thing to do. And then I think Mr. Rogers would say when it is all said and done…
“I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else.”
If he were alive, I believe he would have much to say about the challenges we are facing in this monumental year 2020 and still be able to focus our love and energy toward the other, the neighbor. Jesus did this too. Perhaps that is where Fred Rogers received all his kindhearted words and wisdom. Yes, I think it is. Every wise person has a wise mentor.
One last quote from a beloved and wise man of our time who was made wise from a man who lived 2000 years before him:
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time.”
Peace and health,
Pastor Kimberly Buffie