Fred Rogers - "Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers | Things to Remember Along the Way"
Updated: Jun 15
My favorite quote from this book is when Mister Rogers quotes the Dalai Lama,
"Someone else's action should not determine your response", and continues on to say, "It sounds so simple, doesn't it? And yet what if someone else's action included shouting angry words at us or hitting us with a rotten tomato? That doesn't affect what we do in response? Not if our compassion is genuine. Not if our love is the kind the Dalai Lama advocates." What a powerful statement that provides a glimpse of the type of love and respect Mister Rogers has for all human beings. He truly advocates that we should show up as ourselves, do our best, and be kind to ourselves and others.
It has me thinking that while we have no control over events that happen in our lives, people’s actions, or sometimes even the type of thoughts or emotions we have! What we do have control over, is our response. We can either allow our automatic reactions to happen, or we can choose to respond in a new or different way. I believe this is what Mr. Rogers and the Dalai Lama is referring to.
The way we would respond if we came at it from our pure hearts, with nothing to be afraid of, nothing we need to protect ourselves from. Just a love for ourselves and all of humanity, no matter the circumstances.
This isn’t to say is easy! It’s a simple concept to understand but not easy to master. It’s a practice that could take a lifetime. From my own experience, I’ve been practicing a lifelong lesson of patience and compassion—for both myself and for humanity. I’ll think I have finally become skilled at being patient and compassionate, only to be faced with a situation that reveals to me that I have only scratched the surface. And then, with humility, I realize I have more to learn, probably for the rest of my life!
I often have multiple voices speaking simultaneously to me at one time. I have a voice that feeds my ego, telling me that if I'm too nice, people will only take advantage of me and instructs me to look out purely for myself. This voice often causes me to feel fear and anxiety. And then there's another voice within me that asks me:
"Who is the person you want to be? How do you want to show up? Would you be proud of who you were, looking back?"
This voice grounds me and I feel much more at ease in my body. I strive to listen to the second voice, which doesn’t always seem to be the easiest choice, especially when I’m feeling particularly triggered and heated in the moment.
My current practice is to slow things down to create a gap between my circumstance and my response with the intention of choosing the most compassionate and respectful response for everyone involved. And if I’m not successful, I reflect on what I can learn from the experience, consider the things that I take responsibility for, and more importantly, try to be kind to myself. I have realized there is no point in holding grudges against myself as it doesn’t improve the situation and might even impact how I treat others. This is when I admire animals with their ability to shake off the stress or unpleasant feelings from any situation and continue to trek on! I am practicing shaking things off and walking away with a newfound knowledge to do better in a shorter span of time.
To come back full circle to Mr. Rogers, I think he embodies compassion and respect, as he gives his undivided attention to the person he speaks to in the moment. Also, the positive impact he has on the people around him has been experienced around the world. He appears to be very humble, even after gaining popularity.
I dedicate this article in loving memory of a man who had a vision where television could foster a nurturing and educational environment for children and spread, through them, across the world.