Mr. Rogers models love for all for Valentine’s Day

 

Fred Rogers made a lifetime mission out of showing us what love looks like in practice.

In a whirlwind of hearts and candy, the message of what Valentine’s Day is gets muddled with presents and messages of romance. When, at the root of the holiday, the true message is love. Love in any form deserves to be celebrated. 

The best example of how to accept and exemplify love is shown by the work of Mr. Rogers. Throughout his life, Mr. Rogers preached lessons of welcoming and devoting oneself to love, regardless of the source. With discussion of taboo topics on his beloved show, “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” he taught children how to approach difficult times with kindness and love. 

This lesson still applies today. We, as a society, are caught up in a never ending stream of heartbreaking news stories, threatening tweets and social media expectations. So days like Valentines Day become a hotbed of celebration, a chance to distract oneself from the static outside. 

But the focus on Valentine’s Day in the past has always been focused on romantic love. Couples go out to fancy dinners and plan extravagant gifts as a way of showing their undying devotion. While it is wonderful that so many couples have this kind of relationship, it often isolates those who aren’t in a relationship, leading to bitterness towards the holiday itself. 

It’s important to recognize that romantic love, while wonderful and exciting, is not the only kind of love present in most people’s lives. There is a love of family, a love of neighbors and friends that should hold equal importance. 

Mr. Rogers felt love toward nearly every single person who watched his television show. Looking through Twitter, there are stories after stories of how he changed peoples lives. One tweet chronicles how a young blind girl was concerned if Mr. Rogers was feeding his fish, because she could never see her television. She and her father wrote a letter to Mr. Rogers, and from that day on, every time he fed the fish, he would say, “I’m feeding the fish now,” just so that one little girl felt reassured and heard. 

It’s a simple task, and one that many of us often neglect. Listening. Mr. Rogers listened to each and every person who cared to talk with him. Many people could stand to follow his example and listen to the others around them. Mr. Rogers once said, “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” 

One story about Mr. Rogers’ vast footprint is told in a Facebook post by Wendy Roosevelt D-Angelo. As a young child, she faced bullying and was very lonely. It was Mr. Rogers, she said, who truly made her feel happy. “I felt as if he was the only person who liked me and accepted me just as I was. I never met him, but he is one of the most precious friends I have ever had,” Roosevelt D-Angelo wrote. 

Love was at the center of everything that Mr. Rogers said and did. He focused on the good, but wasn’t afraid to address the inevitable bad that surrounds most people in their everyday lives. His loving attitude and caring actions showed the world a new way of loving others that captivated audiences around the country. 

So, as we begin to think about Valentine’s Day and what its true meaning is, we should remember one of Mr. Rogers famous sayings, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” 

Love can be celebrated every day. Valentine’s Day just provides people with a reminder that love really surrounds everybody. Taking time to recognize that romantic love is not the epitome of what we should strive for is extremely important. Take time this Valentines Day to remember the true meaning of what love is, and how it envelops each person that walks the earth. At the root of the holiday, the message has always been and will always be delightfully simple: love. 

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