I saw a very interesting movie recently called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” As you may already know (or may have guessed) it was a documentary about the children’s television host Fred Rogers, known to all as “Mr. Rogers”. For me, it was somewhat enlightening. I was born too early to have watched “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” myself, and my kids were the right age to watch at about the time that the show went off the air for a few years. So it was interesting to see a documentary about how Mr. Rogers related to children and to learn about the inner workings of the show.
While he didn’t shy away from difficult subjects, Mr. Rogers was all about kindness. He told kids and adults alike “I like you for who you are”. He wasn’t perfect, but everything he did was with love in his heart. So you can imagine how jarring it was (small spoiler alert) when the filmmakers showed, toward the end of the movie, some of the wonderful human beings (sarcasm alert) at Fox News discuss Mr. Rogers’ legacy. They were shrill, they were nasty, and they more or less blamed Fred Rogers for all that is wrong with today’s youth. They particularly derided his message to children that each one of them is special. After all, heaven forbid that a kid who has challenges should feel good about herself. Oh no, said the Fox bullies. They think the young kid who goes out and tries something that is difficult for her shouldn’t be told “Nice try; way to go”. Instead she should be told “You suck”. Builds character, I suppose, although that concept sounds a bit ironic coming from people who have none. But sheer meanness? That they have in spades.
Which, as I’m sure is no surprise, leads us to Trump. It’s been reported that someone who recently left his job at the White House said of Trump “He’s the meanest person I’ve ever met”. By the way, that goes for his supporters too. Don’t buy the nonsense that says that people who voted for Trump did so because he talked about jobs. Hillary Clinton talked about jobs too. If you can stomach it, look at one of Trump’s rallies. They don’t chant “Bring back jobs”. They chant “Lock her up” and “Build the wall”. It’s Trump’s hate that truly gets them going. With all of his narcissism and ignorance, it’s Trump’s sheer meanness that comes through again and again as his defining trait. Make no mistake: he is a sadist who enjoys hurting people. Whereas Mr. Rogers asked everyone who tuned into his show “Won’t you be my neighbor?”, Trump rips small children from their parents’ arms and then neglects to remember the minor point of where he put them. Not very neighborly, I would say.
So go see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”. It’s both soothing and refreshing to be in the company of such unbridled kindness, even if only for 90 minutes or so. And then go out and put your own kindness into action. Show the White House bully that treating others decently and sympathetically is not a weakness, but is actually a strength. Bullies like Trump are cowards. People like Fred Rogers, who exhibit kindness to all, are true heroes.


3 thoughts on “Neighbors

  1. Engel – Trump is not a sadist who “enjoys hurting people”. He is a sociopath who doesn’t care one way or another if people get hurt while he pursues traditional money and power, but more than those two things – affirmation/adoration/credibility and authoritarianism. He uses the reality show motif, which is infuriating to anyone above average intelligence, because that’s what he understands, and that’s what amasses so many followers.

    His followers are also not sadists, no matter what they yell. Some are morons, some are racists, some are xenophobic, most are angry, disenfranchised, and have sh*tty lives and because of their challenged brain sizes, a need to place blame somewhere outside of themselves. These people are problematic not only because of what they are, but because there are so many of them, and because you can’t break through their mental block of false equivalencies and Fox News- generated “alternative facts” to bring them back. They are here forever, long after Trump is gone. The sheer number of them is what keeps Republicans from speaking out and defying Trump more; you can call that spineless, but it’s also the way of politics.

    I think these distinctions of what Trump and his followers are and are not, it’s important. No longer can we (Dems) be inferior politically. We are always going to be shackled by our collective conscience, since there are things we won’t do, unlike the right. BUT – we simply HAVE to better understand them. Not to empathize, but to defeat them in the political arena. The court of public opinion is real. You know I have been saying this for quite some time, going back to the heyday of the Mirenberg jousting. Dems are still not there, I watch them speak so often and they don’t go far enough, or focus on the wrong thing, or give the right fodder for ter narrative. Why do we do this? Ignorance? Somewhat. I see the culprit as smugness.

    But I caution this – just because many Republicans are inferior, does not make us superior. We best not lose these midterms, and we best think long and hard and ratchet up our political acumen to make sure we prevail, and to beat them, we have to understand them well, and also understand what moves the needle.

    • I don’t think so. Trump is a malignant narcissist, which is a regular narcissist with sadism added on for good measure. He does enjoy hurting people. I just don’t see the smugness and I think Dems should forget about trying to “flip” people who voted for Trump. If we get our own people out to vote, we win. Period. So that’s what we have to do.

  2. I’ve heard that term used to describe him many times – malignant narcissism. Sociopathy can masquerade as antipathy if you let it, but there is a distinction. I think Trump has an extreme narcissism, but Trump does not enjoy hurting people because he can’t enjoy anything or even process anything about anyone other than himself. He is a giant id. He has not other component. He is 100% about himself. I’ve never seen anyone else quite like him. His brain is not fully formed.

    Of course everyone needs to vote, that’s a no-brainer. But Engel – I never said anything about trying to flip people who voted for him. Only that we recognize they do constitute a phenomena, and that phenomena needs to be reckoned with politically. We cannot be so confident that we think we can say anything, just because it is correct or factual. Some things will rile up the “base” and that just makes it harder for us. Polls are unreliable. We don’t know how many secret Trump voters there are. We need to be smart. We have a tendency not to get out of our own way. That will always happen to a degree, but it has to happen less.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s