Mister Rogers, The Dark Knight & Me
Some six-years-ago now, Christofer and I flew to Durham, NC, to interview Human Kindness Foundation founder, author, musician and activist, Bo Lozoff, about his book, “Deep & Simple,” and his friendship with Mister Rogers.
This evening, some twelve hours into covering the terribly-sad “Dark Knight Rises” shooting in Aurora, CO, for MTV News, I am reminded of our conversation about the value of a deep and simple life in these shallow and complex times.
I was sitting with my wife in Fred Rogers office talking with the staff of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” about children and violence … at the very moment that the shootings at Columbine were happening with Eric and Dylan shooting their classmates.
When we finished the conversation, we went out to our car, we turned on the radio, we heard about this thing that had just happened in Columbine, Colorado. And it’s exactly what we were just talking about: that children seem to be losing all hope.
And what I said was, “There are three simple words or ideas that you could apply to a rich life: … something beautiful, something noble, something sacred. And just brief examples of what I mean by that: the sunset, if we allow it to touch us. You know? Do you and I take the time in our daily lives — I’m talking about seconds — to consciously be moved or touched by something we consider beautiful?
And just then I realized with a shudder, “Oh my God, not everyone is out killing their schoolmates, but is it possible that tens of millions of Americans don’t feel they have any time for the beautiful, noble or sacred? The vicious, crushing pace of life about wanting stuff, and getting stuff and having stuff and using stuff and buying stuff and then of course replacing stuff, repairing stuff, protecting stuff, defending stuff — you know, it’s so vicious. It’s anti-life.
I’ve read the bibles of all the world’s religions. And over 90% of what they say is identical. Religions are about the same thing. It’s about you and me practicing profound unselfishness, a regard for creation, and each other. We can call that community.
And practicing some internal silencing, stillness process, that gives us a direct link to this mystery inside. You can call that communion. Every religion in the world is about communion and community.
It’s all about well, we’re supposed to spend some time being deep, and we’re supposed to treat each other with love and respect.
In October 2007, Bo presided at Abbi and my wedding ceremony just a few hours south of the Human Kindness Foundation on Brays Island, SC. In March 2010, Chris and I premiered our documentary, “Mister Rogers & Me,” at the Nantucket Film Festival. And in March 2012, the film was released on PBS DVD, iTunes, and PBS affiliates across America.
Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person. And you are special.
Tonight, I am going home to kiss my daughters, and sing to them softly to sleep.