The Neighborhood

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

I was apparently the only person in the movie theater wearing red this past weekend for a mid-day showing of the new movie about Pittsburgh’s beloved Fred Rogers. I knew this because the theater manager, working to get everyone seated in the full house, pointed me out, asked me to stand and be acknowledged for honoring Mr. Rogers. He went on to point out to the other patrons that they should be sure to wear their red sweaters when they came back to watch the movie a second time. 

Just for the record, however, it was a red sweatshirt.

Last spring at my annual birthday party, one of my friends told me that they thought my finest quality was my kindness. I was a little embarrassed and questioned the veracity of her statement. Wasn’t it my sense of humor, business acumen, or my putting stroke on the green? No, she assured me, it was my kindness.

I didn’t grow up in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. I was more of the Howdy Doody generation where TV shows were mostly used to distract kids so that moms could get some of her work chores completed. 

Even though I missed Mr. Rogers, somehow, I managed to pick up the kindness gene. Credit mom and dad and mom’s patience knowing she could get some work done while I was singing along with Buffalo Bill in front of the TV.

I teared up several times during “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” How could I not? Watching Mr. Rogers live every moment as fully as they could be experienced and responding to everyone as the most important person in the world is a character trait that would, no doubt, relieve me of some of my worries about tomorrow and my ruminations over yesterday.

At one point in the movie, the protagonist asks Joanne Rogers what it is like to live with a saint. She responds that she does not like to think of him that way because then his actions become unattainable for others.

She’s right and the examples Fred Rogers shared with all of us go well beyond kindness to a way in which we could all live in the world. For today, however, it is just fine to work on being a bit kinder. I know I still have my work cut out for me.

Your Challenge this Week: Practice kindness

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