By Celia Coates
100-year-old Hugh Van Ellis was in the news this past week. He’s the Tulsa Massacre survivor who said, “We are all one. We are all one.” Those are shining words from someone who was alive when white townspeople killed hundreds of African Americans and destroyed their homes and businesses. Peaceful unity certainly wasn’t the attitude of those neighbors.
Mister Rogers, with his gentle and loving wisdom, wrote about seeing each other,
“One of the mysteries is that as unlike as we are, one human being from another, we also share much in common. Our lives begin the same way, by birth. The love and interdependence of parents and children is universal, and so are the many difficulties parents and children have in becoming separate from one another. As we grow, we laugh and cry at many of the same things. At the end, we all leave the same way – by death. Yet no two threads – no two lives – in that vast tapestry of existence have ever been, or ever will be, the same.”
Here is a WINNpost from 2018 that is about recognizing what we have in common, a story about President Lyndon Johnson learning to see clearly.
More people in this country and around the world have had their lives turned upside down in the last year than in many, many years. Mister Rogers also had something to say that brought me some calming clarity in the middle of all this illness, division, and turmoil.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and am always comforted by realizing that there are still many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
We can see the helpers – for me Hugh Van Ellis is one of them. And, even better, we can be a helper. There are countless ways to care about ourselves and other people – we just have to look around and join the helpers.
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The quotes are from THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MISTER ROGERS: Important Things to Remember, Hachette Books, 2019. This was a reissue of the original 2003 book published by Hyperion.