top of page
  • Writer's pictureAletheia

Who Is My Neighbor? Mr. Rogers vs. Dane County

Dane County touts itself as a tolerant community. But these days, it feels like we're barely "tolerating" each other, which is nothing to brag about. Alternatively, we're being barely "tolerated" by others. And that sure doesn't feel good. One could say that the ever-increasing tolerance rules here have made Dane County an increasingly intolerable place to live.

Let's take a few examples...

When you run errands around town, do you find yourself putting a mask on before you head into a store not because you believe it works, but because you just want to avoid being accused of being "unneighborly"?

How about schools in Dane County? Are your kids coming home with the divisive message that their skin color inherently categorizes and brands them as either a victim or an oppressor?

What about your workplace? Is your employer now telling you that unless you get vaccinated, you're a problem and need to go?

These examples only scratch the surface of the divisions we've allowed social and political hucksters to entrench between us in Dane County, either because we did not see early enough what they were doing or because we simply didn't have the courage to stop them. Being real neighbors to one another would unite us. But we need to define terms, because in our community the very term "neighbor" has been utterly hijacked by the tolerance and division crowd, which insists that we conform to a whole bunch of approved categories and perspectives in order to be considered a "good neighbor." Yuck!

What if we looked to an actual expert in neighborliness to gain some perspective on what it actually means to be a neighbor...

Growing up, a lot of us watched Mr. Rogers. We loved him for his gentle and unwavering ability to make us feel loved, accepted, special. He never once said, "You can be my neighbor...if you're the right color and gender," or "Put this thing on your face, and you can be in my club!" He certainly never said, "Embrace my medical advice or I'll eject you from my neighborhood."

No, in Mr. Rogers' eyes, we were all neighbors. The differences between us were actually interesting, compelling, and valuable. Neighborliness benefited from our inherent value as unique human beings. He consistently articulated that we all have a lot to offer one another and that we could find common ground if we sought it. He modeled better than almost anyone else in the modern age that we all gain and grow through real relationship with one other.

What would it take to jettison a failed and false tolerance model and embrace real relationship and neighborliness in Dane County? What if we finally took some simple steps to reject categorization, division, and fear? What if we actually began striving to know each other--not just categorically, but relationally? What if we stopped being afraid of each other and started seeking out the cool stuff about each other?

I'd sure like to try to change the face of things here. Wanna help? Stay tuned...

173 views0 comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page