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Some wise words from ‘Mr. Rogers’

on Monday, 07 June 2021. Posted in News, Editorials, Features

Bob Sloan Editor
It’s graduation time! A time when young people march across a stage so that they may be awarded a hard-earned and well-deserved diploma to commemorate the closing of one chapter of their life and beginning of another. As commencement addresses go, the one given by Fred Rogers to the graduating class of 2002 at Dartmouth College, is hard to top. Here are the wise words “Mr. Rogers” shared with the graduates: “Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel, a facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not. “Have you heard my favorite story that came from the Seattle Special Olympics? Well, for the 100-yard dash, there were nine contestants. All of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and at the sound of the gun, they took off. But not long afterward, one little boy stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard him crying, they slowed down, turned around and ran back to him. “Every one of them ran back to him. One little girl with down syndrome, bent down and kissed the boy and said, “This’ll make it better”. And the little boy got up and he, and the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line. They all finished the race at the same time. And when they did, everyone stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long time. People who were there are still telling the story with great delight. And you know why? Because deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then. “I’m very much interested in choices and what it is and who it is that enable us human beings to make the choices we make all through our lives. What choices lead to ethnic cleansing? What choices lead to healing? What choices lead to the destruction of the environment, the erosion of the Sabbath, suicide bombings, or teenagers shooting teachers? What choices encourage heroism in the midst of chaos? I have a lot of framed things in my office, which people have given to me through the years and on my walls are Greek and Hebrew and Russian and Chinese. And beside my chair is a French sentence from Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince. It reads, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” “Well, what is essential about you? And who are those who have helped you become the person you are? Anyone who has ever graduated from a college, anyone who has ever been able to sustain a good work, has had at least one person and often many who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others. I’d like to give you all an invisible gift, a gift of a silent minute to think about those who have helped you become who you are today. Some of them may be here right now. Some may be far away. Some like my astronomy professor may even be in heaven, but wherever they are, if they’ve loved you and encouraged you and wanted what was best in life for you, they’re right inside yourself. (A few moments of silence followed.) “Whomever you’ve been thinking about, imagine how grateful they must be that during your silent times, you remember how important they are to you. It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life, which 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 lives from which we make our choices is very good stuff. There’s a neighborhood song that is meant for the child in each of us. And I’d like to give you the words of that song right now, “It’s you I like, it’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair, but it’s you I like. The way you are right now, the way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you, not your caps and gowns, they’re just beside you, but it’s you I like. Every part of you, your skin, your eyes, your feelings, whether old or new, I hope that you remember even when you’re feeling blue, that it’s you I like. It’s you yourself, it’s you. It’s you I like”. “And what that ultimately means of course, is that you don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you. When I say, “It’s you I like” I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which human kind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war and justice that proves more powerful than greed. So in all that you do, in all of your life, I wish you the strength and the grace to make those choices, which will allow you and your neighbor to become the best of whoever you are. Congratulations to you all.” Contact Editor Bob Sloan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.