Can You Say "Warrior?"
"If you could only sense how important you are
to the lives of those you meet;
how important you can be
to people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave
at every meeting with another person.” -Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers was not an Army sharpshooter, or a Navy SEAL. That persistent rumor, which I have heard many times from many different sources, is laid to rest in the truly awesome new movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” by none other than the man himself (as played by Tom Hanks). And while he never did fight for his country (he was a Presbyterian minister prior to working in television), it occurred to me as I watched this story about him that Fred Rogers was very much a warrior.
Mr. Rogers fought many things. He fought against the indifference, thoughtlessness and sometimes downright cruelty with which people can treat each other. He fought against the very medium he devoted his life to, telling an interviewer once that he them got into television because he hated it so much, and wanted to turn it into a tool to help people grow better and love more.
More importantly, Mr. Rogers waged his battles for peace with a particular mindfulness. He had a way, as shown in the movie and recounted by people who knew him in real life, of focusing on the person he was talking to, to the exclusion of everything else going on around him. He knew that a warrior is at their most effective when they are completely present in each moment.
To most of us, Mr. Rogers was a saint. It’s tough to imagine being so completely thoughtful and mindful in a world with so many distractions and demands on our attention. It’s downright exhausting to even think about being so unfailingly positive, so relentlessly nice, in a world that is not always nice back. It is, I imagine, quite a battle. But it is one that pwarriors like Fred Rogers show us can not only be fought, but won.