Mr. Rogers would want you to be a good neighbor

By Duke Staff


It’s been a rough week. Really rough. And while we have many thoughts about the state of everything, we wanted to take a break this week and focus on something close to our Pittsburgh home: Mister Rogers.

This past Monday was the 50th Anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and after such a turbulent few days, taking stock in some of the lessons our favorite neighbor imparted felt like the right thing to do.

But that turns out to be a tall order. The series ran for 31 seasons over 38 years, and, well, that’s a lot of ground to cover.

However, throughout each episode, the common refrain “Won’t you be my neighbor?” rang in the hearts and minds of children everywhere. So that’s where we want to begin. What does it mean to be someone’s neighbor?

It feels as though the least we can do is talk to someone, and not in that sappy, platitude-heavy way. Simply asking a friend how their day is going, and really listening to them, is a great place to start being a good neighbor. Truth be told, giving someone a bit of your attention does a surprising amount to brighten their day.

That listening part can be tricky, to be sure, so practice makes perfect. Try listening to your friends by actively participating with them. Repeat what they are saying back to them, ask questions or for explanations, do little things like that to show that you’re giving them your time, and that you’re present.

If words aren’t your thing, small acts of kindness also do wonders for being a good neighbor. These don’t have to cost money, obviously, but preemptive measures help another show where your attention and values lie. Making copies of a memo for a coworker, for example, or cleaning up some of their busy work keeps people feeling motivated and validated.

Being kind isn’t just for friends and family, of course. Giving a smile and a heartfelt “Thank you,” to your cashier, or cleaning off tables for waitstaff, or picking up someone else’s trash are all ways that can make a strangers’ days better.

And that’s what it’s all about. Whenever the world gets to be a little too much, remembering how to be kind seems to be the most fitting thing to do right now. In light of tragedy, kindness is a stable foundation to build understanding on.