Let's start off with this - you have to see Won't You Be My Neighbor. I watched Mister Roger's Neighborhood as a little kid, so this film tugged at my heart strings in a very special way. It's a beautiful documentation of the philosophy of Fred Rogers, how he viewed the world, his passion for creating meaningful television for children, his love for humanity.
In the second episode of Mister Roger's Neighborhood (1967), King Friday is building a border wall around his castle because he is so fearful of all the change happening in The Land of Make Believe. Mr. Rogers talks about how he decided to be present with his family during breakfast instead of being buried in his newspaper. The themes in his show are timeless. He made an impact in the lives of children over decades and decades, and yet, he frequently questioned if what he was doing was important, was actually worth something, was actually making a real difference.
"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.'" -Fred Rogers
I've always thought that political science was fascinating. The first time I took a Constitutional Government class, I was hooked. During "boring" political times, I still find the stuff super interesting. So, I feel a certain responsibility to remain politically engaged and active during these times that are so beyond boring or standard. I feel an obligation to help people know how to contact their representatives, where to rally and march, how to be an involved part of their Democracy. But lately, I've had this sinking feeling that none of it is actually worth anything. That we keep taking step after step after step backward and backward and backward. Spinning wheels spinning wheels spinning wheels. What's the point of even trying if the fear of difference is triumphing over any sort of love and empathy? Is my little voice worth anything? Are my little actions completely inconsequential? And yet, this quote has been rolling around in my mind, reminding me to keep my eyes open to the people that are helping, that haven't stopped helping, that are still a force of good in the world.
A couple nights ago, I was texting with a dear friend of mine about the upcoming rally for immigrant families and about how it's so difficult to know how to help and how to be part of real change. We talked about how it's hard to know what to say or what to do, wondering if what we do even matters. And she thanked me for how I speak up, how she often takes cues from me in times like these. I don't say that to pat myself on the back, but more to say this: the seemingly little things you do to embody love and to embody what you think is right - those things actually matter. Even if they make a difference for one person, that is still a difference.
Rallying and marching is inconvenient. Speaking up and speaking out can often create awkwardness. Volunteering my time for my community is tiring and isn't always rewarding. But, if everyone bent to the fear of discomfort, no one would march. No one would work elections. No one would call their reps.
That thing you're doing out of love and concern for your neighbor, whatever it may be, that thing is important. Even when it feels like you're spinning your wheels, even when it feels like it's pointless, even when you wonder if it makes even a bit of difference at all, know that your work is worthwhile. All of those little "inconsequential" things done out of love add up to a whole lot of goodness being put into the world.
I have to believe in the undercurrent of love and empathy that I see in the helpers. It's hard sometimes. It's hard a lot of the time. But it's important that we hold onto the light seeping through the cracks in the darkness. We have to keep doing the little things. Because altogether, maybe they're really not so little after all.