“We hope you’ll enjoy these books for many years to come, “ read the card from my son and daughter-in-law that accompanied the present they gave me for Mother’s Day.
They knew I would cherish their gift every single day. Over the years, I made no secret of my unending admiration for the man who authored the set of books waiting for me in the box. These books featured the wisdom, wit, advice and life lessons of Mr. Rogers. Yes, the one and only Fred Rogers.
I have adored Fred Rogers since the first time I saw his PBS program when my son was about two years old. As I began to watch the program regularly with my son, I became aware that I had never before seen a gentler, kinder, more compassionate, wise, loving and sweeter soul than his. Until I came to know Mayor Pete. But more about that in just a moment.
Mr. Rogers, I believe, had an extraordinary impact on my son and daughter in their toddler and pre-school years. They were drawn to his soft voice, his calm demeanor, his curiosity, his neighborhood of diverse characters, and his personal connection to them as he looked right into the camera to make eye contact with them as he spoke. I was so grateful to PBS for providing such a dear and kind friend for them that they (and I) could visit with daily.
My Mr. Rogers books sit prominently on my living room coffee table, and I look to them often to be inspired, to be comforted, and to find answers to some of life’s most difficult questions. The books are becoming dog-eared of late. Like so many people across the country and the world, I have needed extra soothing in the wake of the unfathomable massacres occurring in America. And I remain so deeply troubled by the innocent migrant children detained in sub-human camps along our southern border. Mr. Rogers gives me that comfort I need when I feel powerless to help…still. So I read through Mr. Roger’s words and wisdom on ways to prevail against these harsh, buffeting winds.
The following quotes of Fred Rogers rested in my heart today:
“It’s not the honors and prizes and the fancy outsides that ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our being is very firm.”
“When I was a boy, I used to think that strong meant having big muscles, great physical power; but the longer I live, the more I realize that real strength has much more to do with what is not seen. Real strength has to do with helping others.”
“The values we care about the deepest, and the movements within society that support those values, command our love. When those things that we care about so deeply become endangered, we become enraged. And what a healthy thing that is! Without it, we would never stand up and speak out for what we believe.”
As I read Mr. Rogers’ words, I immediately recognized Pete as the protagonist in each beautiful scenario. This was such welcome comfort! Here were the writings of a man whose spirit and soul I have loved for two generations…spinning stories of a man who he never knew, but whose character is described with uncanny precision.
First, Mr. Rogers points out that it is not possible to trust another who is not a truth teller; and that truth and trust are inexorably intertwined. Then, he imparts his definition of strength as that which calls upon us to act for the sake of humanity. And finally, he implores us to speak out and take action against that which is morally reprehensible to us.
This is who Pete Buttigieg is at his core — a man whose relationship with truth and integrity is incorruptible. He is a man whose devotion to humanity and the sanctity of human life has led him to a life of service to others. And he is a man who is an upstander — unafraid to rise against that which he knows is immoral, inequitable or unjust.
Like I loved Mr. Rogers, I love Pete in the very same way. These are men who possess almost a single soul, an essence, a being of unique goodness that they share so willingly with the world. Both Fred Rogers and Pete Buttigieg are models for our children to emulate. Imagine a President who has the brilliance, insight, knowledge, ethics, understanding, courage and humility to lead this nation while living according to the American values upon which this nation was founded.
In times of upheaval or disaster, Mr. Rogers always advised that people should, “Look for the helpers. There are always helpers.”
I think Pete is the helper we must look to now. #20PETE20