“Won’t you be my neighbor?” Mr. Rogers
It’s hard to imagine a childhood that wasn’t touched by Mr. Rogers on PBS. In his gentle and calm demeanor, Mr. Rogers taught generations (that’s not an exaggeration) of children what it meant to be good citizens in the world. Many of these lessons weren’t overt. Instead, he used his relationships on his show to model for us what it meant to be a good neighbor to others.
In today’s world, it can become easy to that we are too small to exact any real and transformative change. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Of all the lessons Mr. Rogers taught so many of us, one that stands out clearly is the power of your voice. The power of one voice, standing up, speaking out and pushing back results in others feeling encouraged, empowered and equipped to follow suit.
Psychologists and sociologists have studied this phenomenon - social influence - for years. Simply put, social influence is the ways in which individuals change their behaviors to match that of a group or perceived authority figure. It’s what brands do when they put celebrities in their campaigns - by wearing these shoes, you too can be like Mike.
Mr. Rogers employed social influence in his shows. Does anyone remember Officer Clemmons? So many of the situations Mr. Clemmons faced on the show were Mr. Rogers’ stand against what was happening in the world.
But, what does this have to do with us? We aren’t famous, and don’t have any celebrity endorsements (yet). Well, what about: #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #Enough, #FamiliesBelongTogether, and even #HeartBeatsHate?
The common thread? One person, standing up, speaking out and pushing back. Using their voice to make the world a little better. It’s an amazing power. And one each of us holds.