I keep coming back to being kind, to being brave this year. (Well, those and a few other things.) But ‘be kind’ and ‘be brave’ are twin motivators fuelled in part by some grand speechifying on an episode of Doctor Who, and the book 100 Days to Brave: Devotions for Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self by Annie F. Downs. It’s an odd mix, I’ll admit, but it’s a good loop to return to, the stitched-together admonition to laugh hard, run fast, be kind, be brave.
It could be why I’m also finding myself searching out information on one Mr. Rogers as of late. The impetus was not his television program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood being as I don’t recall ever watching it when I was a kid. (Though there was plenty of Sesame Street, The Friendly Giant, and Mr. Dressup to be enjoyed.) It was the below trailer which set me upon a rather delightsome rabbit trail:
I was a little teary-eyed after watching it for the first time. There was something so inherently good about the man being talked about, a genuineness that is not easy to find these days. And it’s easy to blame the slog of 24/7 news cycles and social media feeds where everyone is clamoring to be heard and no one is listening. But here’s the thing: I can be that kind of a person. I can choose, like Mr. Rogers did, to build loving and caring neighborhoods with those around me, to live out the teachings of Jesus. I can take the time to genuinely listen, to love, to care, to share.
I don’t have to be bogged down by all that is going on around me. I don’t have to use it to excuse my own bad moods and bad choices and bad days.
I can choose to be a good neighbor.
25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”
26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”
29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” –Luke 10:25-37 (The Message)