You Don’t Need a Cape


I need some comfort in this world of chaos. So much is leaving us disgruntled, unhappy, and yes, scared. How do we go on living our lives when so much of the world is suffering—and sometimes we are suffering in our own worlds? At times like this we need to turn to unlikely sources of wisdom—those who are quiet and gentle, those we entrusted our children to. Mr. Rogers is who I am thinking of specifically, but some of the other heroes of my sons’ young lives were also laudable—Mr. Dress Up, the Sesame Street characters, Fred Penner, along with Sharon, Lois and Bram.

They were positive influences—they did not wear capes but imparted kindness, gentleness, and darn it, downright niceness. There have been many a news stories of late about a quote from Mr. Rogers that is helping many of us get through some of the world crises, the latest being the horrors that transpired in Manchester. It does not make us understand them any better, but it does give us hope.

It was some advice he received from his mom and it is simple, but it gets to the core of why we just do not all throw in the towel. He said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

What he said is so true. There are so many helpers in times of terror. People who forget about themselves and help others, sometimes putting themselves in peril. These are the people we should be remembering. And while we should never forget those who terrorize us, put us in danger, and spread fear, we must remember that for every one of those who do harm, there are millions of us who do not. Hard to remember this in times of peril—but important. Important because we cannot lose heart. For if we lose heart, and faith in our fellow human, we have lost everything.

I know that many times I attempt to make this column humorous, but this week my funny bone is sprained. I need comfort, and healing, and the knowledge that though the crazy leader of the North Koreans is at the helm of something terrible, though terrorists are plotting their next moves, and though we create our own little hells, there is hope. And I find that hope in the words of those much wiser than I.

Here are two more of Mr. Rogers’ Gentle Quotations put together by Chris Higgins on the website Mental Floss, gleaned from the book, “The World According to Mr. Rogers”:

On strength: “Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It’s something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength and other words–like aggression and even violence. Real strength is neither male nor female; but is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that any human being can possess.”

On great things: “A high school student wrote to ask, ‘What was the greatest event in American history?’ I can’t say. However, I suspect that like so many ‘great’ events, it was something very simple and very quiet with little or no fanfare (such as someone forgiving someone else for a deep hurt that eventually changed the course of history). The really important ‘great’ things are never center stage of life’s dramas; they’re always ‘in the wings.’ That’s why it’s so essential for us to be mindful of the humble and the deep rather than the flashy and the superficial.”

Mr. Rogers was a gentle man. We need this quality and we should never downplay our gentleness. The first definition given by Merriam-Webster of gentle is “belonging to a family of high social station.” I would like to amend that definition. Gentle, when applied to any human being, is the highest station of all—and the status has nothing to do with wealth or relatives.

It is the gentle, the kind, the tender, the quiet, and the calm who shall lead them. You need no cape to be a hero. Look in the wings….

Published in: on May 31, 2017 at 1:58 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a wonderful post! Thanks, I needed that :).

  2. Wise words!

  3. A bloody awesome post, the world is scary but there are still many good kind and caring people in it doing wonderful things they are the people we need to recognize more of

  4. 💕👌🏻

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