When we think of Mister Rogers, most of us go straight to the set of his show. We see his cardigans and his puppets and hear his songs.
Did you know that Mister Rogers was asked to author a chapter in a medical book called Duane’s Opthamology?
The book is a technical workbook for all things “eye.” It’s one of the standard references in the field.
What in the world does the minister-turned-television-guru have to say that could help an eye surgeon?
His chapter was entitled, “Physical and Psychological Preparation of Children for Anesthesia and Surgery.”
You might expect it to begin with a thorough review of psychiatric literature about children’s stressors and coping skills. It could immediately launch with specific strategies and conversations to use.
Mister Rogers does something better than that. To help the medical team prepare children for eye surgery, he begins is chapter with six words:
“You were a child once, too.”Fred Rogers
That’s all it takes, isn’t it? Mister Rogers invited these surgeons to stop thinking like surgeons and start thinking like children. He invited them to empathy.
Imagine how much better off the world would be if we began the day with a simple reminder: “We’ve been in their shoes, too.” You have been stressed. You have made bad decisions. You have been lost. You have been afraid. And if we can remember what it was like for us, maybe it will make it a little easier to follow the words of Jesus: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12)