"So let's make the most of this beautiful day
Since we're together, we might as well say
Would you be mine,
Could you be mine,
Won't you be my neighbor?"
~Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood theme
I think if each of us was to pick a childhood television show that made an impact on the way we see the world around us, that taught us about loving people no matter what they might look like or what different abilities they might have, most of us might name Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
|Mr. Rogers and Officer Clemmons share a dip in a wading pool. Wikimedia Commons image.|
As an adult, I still find myself looking up a few old episodes for nostalgia's sake. And each time I do, I am amazing at how forward-thinking Fred Rogers was for his time. In a time of hate and racial discrimination, a time when people disabilities were often institutionalized and seen as something to be afraid of, Mr. Rogers welcomed people with differences as friends and neighbors. Whether it was sharing a wading pool with a policeman of a different race, or asking a child to demonstrate how to use an electric wheelchair, how often did we hear him say those iconic words, "I love you, and I'm proud of you"? Mr. Rogers certainly followed Jesus' command to "love your neighbor as yourself."
I often think, what would our world be like if we all acted a little more like Mr. Rogers? If we shared our love with everyone we came in contact with, if we did our best to say something positive about everyone, and if instead of seeing differences, we saw "neighbors"?
Today, right now, we have the opportunity to be good neighbors to someone in need. Here in Canada, mosquito bites are an annoying (and itchy) but normal part of summer. In Awassa Tanzania, however, mosquito bites can be fatal. Every day, 3,000 children (that's almost the population of my community!) die from malaria; a disease that is both curable AND easily preventable! With insecticide-treated mosquito nets, children and their families can sleep safely and comfortably knowing that they will be protected from disease carrying pests.
In 2010, there were an estimated 655,000 deaths from malaria. To put that in perspective, that's almost six times the population of our capital city of St. John's! In one year!
|A boy smiles from behind a mosquito net. Copyright Compassion International|
For only 18 dollars, you can provide a child with a mosquito net and life-saving malarial treatment. To learn more, please visit Compassion: Malaria Intervention
"(And Jesus said) Which of these three seems to you to have been a neighbor of the one having fallen among the robbers? And he (the teacher of the law) said, "The one having shown compassion toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "You go and do likewise."