Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered . . . just one kind word to another person.
— Fred Rogers
Last week, I was listening to a local radio program and the topic was the legacy left behind by the late Fred Rogers.
Colleagues who worked with the founder of the long-running Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood show shared two favorite messages from Fred Rogers that resonated with me:
It’s easy to say Be Kind, but far harder to put that into practice. While I certainly say kind words, silently I am quick to judge, and not always quick to forgive (I can count at least two long-standing grudges that I can’t let go of).
I could use the excuse that in the news business, you have to call things like you see them, and sometimes you have to make snap judgments too.
Which leads me to the second piece of Mister Rogers’ advice: Go Slow.
Breaking news requires speed. That is even more true with the advent of social media, and information going viral. But speed also is when mistakes are made. Being first does not always equal accuracy. Or fairness. Or good judgment. It is, in my opinion, the Achilles’ heel of standard news gathering practice.
Going Slow doesn’t suit our busy lifestyles. We want instant gratification, from reading every text message as soon as it comes in to one-click ordering on Amazon (with same-day shipping, of course).
Yet, just think how much better our community would be if we focused on being kind — and going slow. We’d be less likely to leave a snippy comment, be rude to each other in a public meeting or put others down because their viewpoint doesn’t mesh with ours.
My pledge to you, as we enter yet another holiday season, is to do better on both counts. Will you join me?
With special gratitude to all of you who support our community news gathering.