Be Ye Kind

Galatians 5:16-26; Colossians 3:12-17

            In 2018, our country was repeatedly caught off guard and disillusioned by a steady stream of revelations that high profile and respected male figures had abused their power in all sorts of tragic ways.  For women who had been victimized in the past it was both liberating and traumatic, forcing so many to relive, over and over, some of the most awful moments of their lives.  For men, there was a lot of fear about how their actions may be construed.  For society there was a needed reckoning about what is and absolutely is not acceptable behavior.  Then last year a childhood hero for many took center stage and we held our collective national breath hoping we weren’t about to witness another leader fall from his pedestal.  When it became clear this man was indeed everything we had always believed him to be, many of us let out a weary sigh of relief and loved him all the more even though he has been gone for over 15 years.

Just out of curiosity, how many of you watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood growing up?  Mr. Rogers came into my living room every day.  If I remember correctly, he was on right after Captain Kangaroo and right before Sesame Street.  Now a confession.  Mr. Rogers was okay, but I liked other shows better.  I also lived in a warm, loving and safe home and had all the reassurance I needed growing up.    Both the documentary and the movie about Mr. Rogers that came out last year, make clear how critically important Mr. Rogers was in the lives of so very many children who didn’t have the safe and caring home environment many of us took for granted.    

Mr. Rogers was exceptional in several ways.  He understood very early what a powerful medium television could be.  He perceived both its potential and was appalled at the way that potential was being abused, already back in the 1960’s.  He had a special knack for speaking with children honestly and with respect.  He never talked down to kids and kids could just tell this was a man who genuinely loved children, loved them.  But by far the trait most often lifted up is Fred Roger’s innate kindness. 

It is both interesting and hopeful that Mr. Rogers has emerged as one of the heroes of 2019.  That in a world where cruelty, anxiousness, greed, and uncertainty make their loud voices known in all sorts of difficult ways, a man we remember for his radical kindness is lifted up as an