“One of my wise teachers, Dr. William F. Orr, told me, ‘There is only one thing evil cannot stand and that is forgiveness.’ “

— Mister Rogers

So many of us spend our time looking for ways to bring peace and light to a dark and angry world.  We try to devise ways to subvert evil and to let goodness prevail; and with all the examples of unkind acts and hurtful words that confront us each day as we move through life, it is easy to begin to feel insignificant, outnumbered, and overwhelmed.  As another day dawned today, I thought about the idyllic days that my children spent riding the trolley to MisterRogers Neighborhood — a world of peace and acceptance and love.  Somehow I just knew that Fred Rogers would have some wisdom to share with us on the subject of goodness; and he did not disappoint me.

I thought about his neighborhood and about the feeling of safety and protection that visits there conjured for my children — and for their mother — and I realized that the familiar people there were not without conflicts to resolve and choices to be made.  What was special about boarding the trolley for their neighborhood was being transported to a place where discord and conflict were resolved under the guidance of the wise and benevolent adults who taught and brought forgiveness to bear.  It is very hard to harbor anger or hatred when the person you wish to hate extends a gentle hand and speaks the soft words of forgiveness.

Each day, as the trolley would return to the house with the fish tank, and the man there would trade in his red sweater and sneakers for his street shoes and business suit, we would bring back the feeling of peace we had found in a neighborhood just a short distance from our own.  “I like you just the way you are,” Mister Rogers would tell us — solidifying the messages of love and acceptance that were so simple that even puppets knew they were true.

It has now been seven years since Fred Rogers hung up his sweater and left his neighborhood for a world of peace; but his message goes on, both on film and in his now grown neighbors, who carry with them the lessons he shared.  I believe he is right about evil.  I believe that evil cannot stand in the light of forgiveness.  Through patience, love and acceptance, we have the power to transform our world and overcome evil.  Won’t you be my neighbor?  I like you just the way you are.