When I was growing up, there was a presence in my life, five days a week, which sent messages of kindness to me and others throughout the country. That presence was Mr. Fred Rogers.
Mr. Rogers exalted the virtues of being an individual and caring for others, offering everyone, regardless of their background and on the basis of their humanity, an invitation to "be his neighbor".
Our speech in America has changed a lot in the time we lost Mr. Rogers. From Washington, DC to social media and even in large and small companies across the country, people have entrenched themselves in teams and tribes, spitting vitriol and creating division.
ELLEN DEGENERES IS SUPREME AT TWITTER MOB, DEFENDS BY APPEARING WITH & # 39; FRIEND & # 39; GEORGE W. BUSH
Many hold an impossible standard for any human being: I agree with me on everything or we cannot be friends, colleagues or even family.
Recently, this feeling of exclusion was directed against the comedian, talk show and game presenter, Ellen DeGeneres. The cause of disdain for him?
DeGeneres had the courage to spend time at a Dallas Cowboys football game, sitting next to someone some people thought he shouldn't talk about, former President George W. Bush.
They were sitting next to each other, having fun and smiling, yet several people on the Internet thought it was too much and decided it was a reason to be in arms. Somehow, the sight of two people sharing different political values and yet they chose to spend time together was a reason for online indignation.
DeGeneres responded to social media indignation on Twitter with grace and class (as well as humor) and used the situation as a teaching moment in a video to remind people that if you don't share someone's ideas it doesn't mean you can "I consider them a friend.
He said: "Here is the point: I am a friend of George Bush. In fact, I am a friend of many people who do not share the same beliefs I have."
He continued, "We are all different and I think we have forgotten that it is okay. That we are all different … but just because I am not in agreement with anyone about this does not mean that I will not become friends with them."
At that moment, DeGeneres took the torch from Mr. Rogers, reminding those in need of humanity and the differences that are part of what makes us special and our interesting world.
My favorite part of his video was his conclusion: "When I say" Be nice to each other, "I don't mean just like-minded people. I mean, be kind to everyone."
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This is the key; we need to go back to discussing ideas instead of breaking down people.
Being kind does not mean that you have to be in agreement with everything or even someone else. Remember that the beauty of being a human being is that we are all different and even if you think someone has bad ideas, it doesn't make them a bad person.
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We hope that this moment is the first of many cases in which we hear repeating the message of kindness, since we, in order to be United States of America, really need it.
I appreciate the role of DeGeneres in the role of Mr. Rogers. I hope to see many others following the example being willing to invite others with whom they might not agree to still be "their neighbors" on a human level.