October 2019

A Fred Rogers' quote is the best way to combat the Me First movement.

What do we do when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood becomes mean spirited?

I was driving down Freeport Road recently on my way to the grocery store when I noticed a car trying to pull into my lane from Waterworks Mall. Traffic was backed up, and the driver had only managed to make it halfway onto Freeport Road, in effect blocking cars coming the opposite direction. So I decided to let her out, making her happy as well as the drivers of the cars she was blocking.

But not everyone was happy.

As I got into the left lane at the light, a landscaping company truck pulled up alongside me and the driver was wildly gesturing. Against my better judgment, I lowered my passenger side window and he began yelling at me for stopping because he could have rear ended my car. I started to explain, but he cut me off, telling me that, in fact, he SHOULD have hit my car.

At this point I said, “OK,” and started to put up my window when he concluded our conversation with “OK, my ass.”

I wish this were an isolated incident or even limited to road rage, but the Me First Movement seems to have taken hold across the city.

As I moved my shopping cart down the aisle at the grocery store, another shopper was blocking my access to the peanut butter.

Since I wasn’t in a hurry, I just waited until he took what he wanted off the shelf. But before he moved on, he turned back to me and growled, “You could have just gone around me!” I pointed at the peanut butter that his cart was in front of and he scoffed.

I could go on, but we all have seen the rise of discourtesy and the way it can make us want to withdraw from others. But that is precisely the wrong impulse.

In our feature, Ranking Suburbia, we measure a host of quantifiable statistics on what makes a good community. What we don’t measure is neighborliness. Yet, people we talked to for the stories of the winning neighborhoods tell us that a sense of community matters when they choose a place to live.

Next month, we are publishing our annual Give issue, which this year will offer a range of ways that you can give back to the community through volunteering. In a happy coincidence, it’s the same month that “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” will be released, starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers. So it seems appropriate to conclude with a quote from our favorite neighbor:

“There are three ways to ultimate success. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

Categories: Editor