Now I want to say a bit more about Mr. Rogers being a male in this post. What Mr. Rogers did was completely counter-cultural to what is acceptable for a man to do. And they even said in the documentary that there is no place in public television today for a nice man like Mr. Rogers. I can testify this is true in public education too.
As a kid, I was not around many men who were tender and kind and wanted to work with children. Men were taught not to do that–unless they were dominating kids in youth sports (ex. gymnastics and soccer). Educating and teaching children they are enough just by being who they are is not manly enough. That is not a winning message. And a man who is tender gets called all kinds of names and gets accused of the unimaginable. Because of this, I do believe this is why we have a massive amount of violence that is coming from men. Men are the cause of most of the violence in our society and that cannot be denied; it is statistically proven. Toxic masculinity. We are in desperate need of healing masculinity. All of us, no matter our gender identity, would do well to get in touch with our masculinity. It is part of being human.
I am not opposed to dropping the masculine and feminine adjectives and just calling it human, but we are not there yet as a society. I learned that in the “Undong Gender” conference. We need the language to be able to move forward and heal what is wounded.
Here is Mr. Rogers who is so tender and kind. Because of that, he was questioned in interviews if he was really straight; which, by the way, would not be a problem if he was not straight. It is a problem to believe that a straight man cannot be tender and truly kind. I needed a Mr. Rogers in my life. I know he would be accused of so much more if he were alive today because of how good and kind he was to children. I love he said this when he was angry:
(This is my language used with his. We are a duo): I am not here for the people who have long set aside what children need. I will tell you what children need.
Mr. Rogers was also a lifelong Republican and had to witness his own party turning against children, starting with Nixon. It was Nixon who began going after public television and wanting authority over those he did not believe were behaving. He needed money for the Vietnam war. Mr. Rogers was able to talk to people in authority, not Nixon, but Senators (oh, how I wish he could talk to our Senators today and appeal to their humanity!!!!) and help them find the goodness in what he is doing. I have been doing this past three weeks too and it is working–not with Senators, but with city officials. What he told them that is so significant to me is this:
The first thing a child learns in a healthy relationship is how to trust.
We are living in a world that is untrustworthy. Our children have not learned to trust because so many have been violated both at home and in public life (see USA Gymnastics). And goodness can be misinterpreted when that is not what they are conditioned to. I was surprised to see how many people believe Trump loves them. Abuse and love are confused. This is another great argument as to why we need to end punitive systems. That is not love. Abuse is never an avenue to new creation. The best it can do, and it won’t last, is obedience out of fear.
Two Sachse High School teachers have quit on the spot this year and the kids have laughed. People in our community need to understand what teachers, as well as the kids, are dealing with. People in authority have their hands off and are not getting in the ring with them. They are judging from afar and we are losing the people who are actually trying to make the world better.
The Bruehls are not taking that path. I am reading the story of Solomon who judged wisely in a whole new way. I think we give Solomon too much credit and not enough to the brave woman who would not compromise on what is true. It would have been easier to cave according to society’s rules, but that would have been a rejection of herself, her child, and what is true. She kept facing the challenge and the truth won the day. Maybe we need more judges like Solomon, but we also need more bold truth tellers (advocates) like the mother in the story.