People always chuckle when I tell them one of my favorite philosophers is Mr Rogers. They think I am being funny or part of me just has not grown up yet. While both of those statements are generally true about me, saying Mr. Rogers is still one of my greatest influences is serious. The conflict between people in the United States has really spiraled out of control lately. Truly the media has done it’s part to fuel the flames and make it even worse.
What does a former childhood’s television show host have to do with any of this? How can any of what he has to say be relative to racial divide? How can it help to heal the hate and mistrust between law enforcement and well-meaning people? More to the point what role can we play in all of this? What actions can we take? I will answer all of these questions and the answers just may surprise you.
In my house I have a daily calendar that includes quotes from one Fred Rogers. On the first of July I would like to share what I read with you.
“As different as we are from one another, as unique as each one of us is, we are much more the same than we are different. That may be the most essential message of all, as we help our children grow toward being caring, compassionate, and charitable adults.”
When I read that I had to pause. It was as if he was responding to what was happening today. His message that we are more the same than we are different is one of the most overlooked aspects of all of this. Acting violent toward anyone because they are different is ignoring all the ways they are the same to us. Each group has people that are alike, and people that are different. Race tends to be one of the easier ways to choose to dislike someone because it is available on the outside. It requires no effort or time to get to know them, which may often change your ability to dislike them. In my nationality there are people I like and people I do not really care for. Simply saying this person is good or bad because of what race they belong to is foolish. It makes no more sense then disliking someone based on their profession. Recently in my city a young man shot a police officer for no other reason than he was a police officer. He did not know the mans beliefs or what his opinion might be of him. That is nothing short of stupid and ignorant. Equally, officers that assume someone’s guilt according to race are ignorant and stupid as well. There are people in both groups that do fit this description sadly. What gets lost in all the hype is they are by far the minority. Most citizens, myself included, appreciate the job law enforcement does and the risks they take to do it. Most officers take that job as a way to serve and not a way to judge. They take those risks because they truly care about people and making this world safe.
So what can we do when we hear about all of this violence through the media? Do we protest against either side? Do we shake our heads and exclaim how awful the world is getting? The intelligent action is to follow the words of Mr. Rogers and help our children, and fellow adults, grow toward being caring, compassionate and charitable adults. Become part of the solution and not part of the problem. Let us find a way to allow officers to do their jobs without the fear of being attacked. At the same time let us find a solution that no person should fear persecution based solely on their race. Let us hold those who bring this division to our people to the strictest of penalties on both sides of the issue. More importantly let us put our energy behind those attempting to bring us back together using the power of love and focusing on how we are more alike than we are different. It is only by working together we can build a world of peace that is fair and just to all.