We all have our personal heroes. Mine, is Fred Rogers.
For those of you unfamiliar with this man, Fred Rogers was the host of the popular children’s television show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, for over 30 years. During those 3 decades, Mr. Rogers donned his signature cardigan sweater and invited us to be his neighbor. For generations of children, Fred Rogers was a trusted friend who reminded us that somebody liked us, just the way we are.
In my hometown of Pittsburgh, Mr. Rogers is an icon. A large statue of his likeness watches over those in the city reminding us that no matter how big our world may be, we are all neighbors.
Throughout Fred’s life, he often pondered one question time and time again, “How do we make goodness attractive?”
In the era marred by divisive rhetoric, this question becomes more important than ever.
The past 18 months have been extremely difficult for me. In April of 2020, I was furloughed from my job, which I would lose a few months later. I went from being a traveling dad to a stay at home dad in the course of one zoom call. I went from long periods of sweet solitude to the constant company of my beloved family, with nowhere to go and limited activities to entertain my five-year-old twins. It was then that I realized that my entire life that my equilibrium relied on a steady dose of alone time, something suddenly in a short supply. Add to that the vitriol of American politics during a presidential election year, my mental health was not in a good state.
I needed to change something. I needed to do good. Then there it was, 143 Day!
143 Day is May 23rd. It is a day designed to honor “America’s Favorite Neighbor,” Mr. Rogers. 1-4-3 stands for I Love You, each digit representing the number of letters in each word. 1-4-3 is a day for embracing the spirt of Mr. Rogers through small acts of kindness.
In 2020, I loaded my twins into the car and we set out to do some good. Our first stop was to Dunkin’ Donuts to purchase a few dozen donuts for the staff of the local nursing home where the boys’ Great Grandmother currently resides. We dropped off the donuts and thanked them for taking care of our Nana and her friends. We then headed to Starbucks and not only purchased coffee for the car behind us, but we were sure to add a large tip to the tip char. Additionally, we picked up a few Starbucks gift cards, which we dropped off to the pair of nurses manning the drive up Covid testing tent. When we got home from our little outing, we continued an ongoing project of making “Thinking of You” cars for residents of nursing homes throughout the community. The boys even went and pulled a couple of toys to donate to a local charity. In the scheme of things, it wasn’t a lot. But at the time, it was what I needed. I needed to put some kindness out in the world even if it meant brightening just a few people’s days. Not only that, but It was my own attempt at making goodness attractive for my children.
So this year, I present a call to action for 1-4-3 day. Find a way to brighten someone’s day. Find a way to make goodness attractive. It does not have to be a huge daunting task, just a moment out of your day to spread kindness. The great thing about kindness is that it tends to radiate outwards from those who do it, creating a ripple effect. This May 23rd, find a way to be the epicenter of kindness.