Won’t You Be My Neighbor? On Mr. Rogers Is An Excellent Look Inside

"And what that ultimately means, of course, is that you don't ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you."


I saw ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ about Mr. Rogers in the theatre. Part of it centered on Mr. Rogers’ struggle to love himself as an odd fit in the world, but mostly it was about his mission to teach children that every one of them deserves love and dignity.

Mr. Rogers and Daniel Tiger

In it, they discuss that Daniel the Tiger was the voice of Rogers’ inner child. They played a clip where his self-doubt comes out, and despite Lady Aberlin’s best efforts to assure Daniel he isn’t a mistake, he repeats the bad thinking. It resonated with me. Self-doubt is something that I’ve always struggled with. Then I looked to my right. Two women and a man were in their 60s were crying. To my right, two 20-somethings were wiping tears.

Mr. Rogers’ Message

It is easy to say that the world needs another Mr. Rogers, but I think that lets us all off the hook. Every person needs and wants to hear what Rogers had to say, and we are all able to do it. His message was best encapsulated in his 2002 Dartmouth commencement address:

“There’s a neighborhood song that is meant for the child in each of us, and I’d like to give you the words of that song right now. “It’s you I like, it’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair, but it’s you I like. The way you are right now, the way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you. Not your caps and gowns, they’re just beside you. But it’s you I like. Every part of you. Your skin, your eyes, your feelings. Whether old or new, I hope that you remember, even when you’re feeling blue, that it’s you I like. It’s you, yourself, it’s you. It’s you I like.”

And what that ultimately means, of course, is that you don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you. When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see, or hear, or touch. That deep part of you, that allows you to stand for those things, without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate. Peace that rises triumphant over war. And justice that proves more powerful than greed.”

I love this message, and it proves that when people accidentally talk to each other in real life, they find common ground.

“In an unmissable talk about race and politics in America, Theo E.J. Wilson tells the story of becoming Lucius25, white supremacist lurker, and the unexpected compassion and surprising perspective he found from engaging with people he disagrees with. He encourages us to let go of fear, embrace curiosity and have courageous conversations with people who think differently from us. “Conversations stop violence, conversations start countries and build bridges,” he says.”

Thomas Thwaites tried to build a toaster on his own. Watch how much time and effort went into building a cheap toaster that never worked. Through cooperation, a reliable toaster is built that costs us a fraction of the time and money.

Jonah Goldberg’s new book “Suicide of the West” is excellent. It is a defense of freedom and gives a framework for letting it thrive in a culture. If you can’t dedicate the time to reading this tome, then this is a good summation.

“An Open Letter to My Former Self”
by We Are Libertarians

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This was a project I did for a Carmel High School radio station called WHJE. One of the students saw me speak in that previous episode about my career and asked me to write and record this for a high school audience. It is a letter to my high school self.

“In this open letter produced by Katie Piedra, podcast creator and Bob and Tom Show website director Chris Spangle walks you through his own story.

But that’s not it. In this open letter, there is passion. There are stories. There is self-love. There are lessons.

There is a life for you to reclaim. Chris explains how he conquered – and is still conquering – himself, and how you can overcome your own obstacles.”

How to Fight Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide, anxiety, and depression are curable. There is hope.

Suicides spiked 10% after Robin Williams took his life. My sincere hope is that doesn’t happen after Bourdain’s passing. Many genuine people are encouraging friends to talk to friends, and that helps… but I think it’s important for people to speak about their struggles with suicidal ideation like Bourdain did. When people like writer Yashar Ali dealt with depression for the first time, he knew who could help him, and it was Bourdain. Those of us doing well have to leave a roadmap for encouragement to those that aren’t.

How can someone like Anthony Bourdain take his own life when so many people love him? Is he at the top of his field? When he financially wants for nothing? Age and years of drug abuse likely robbed him of a healthy chemical balance. When you face depression, darkness follows close behind.

Depression Strikes Despite Circumstances

I have struggled with depression and suicidal ideation my entire adult life. To be honest, the last four months have been very difficult (It’s easy to hide with enough practice.) Due to a medicine switch, I decided to leave serotonin drugs for something else. The lack of serotonin led to some days of despair. There’s no rhyme or reason to it beyond that. Despite some personal turbulence, my life is terrific. I’m excelling in my physical, emotional, and spiritual life. (Thanks to my support system, I’m doing great, so please don’t worry.)

How do I know when I’m dealing with depression? It creeps up on me. It’s not as simple as “I’m feeling very sad today.” While that exists, imagine your emotional life as a Jenga set. Over time, little pieces get removed. One little self-esteem hit here. One little rejection there. One missed workout here. One week of bad sleep there. Eventually, you’re wobbling and wondering why you’re about to fall.

I’ve spent three years seeing a therapist who walks me through my thought and behavioral patterns. I know all my modes of self-destructive behavior. I remove Jenga pieces by emotionally eating and guilting myself for it. I isolate myself from the ones I love by pushing them away through harsh barbs of sarcasm. In therapy, you see all the ways you’re validating the idea that you’re not worthy of love. They then coach you on how to defeat this wrong thinking.

How Does One Fight Depression?

Healthy self-worth is the anti-virus of the mind. It’s essential to update it through self-care regularly. Get exercise, get sunlight, get good sleep, go to therapy, read books, meet friends and family face to face, eat nutritious foods, attend a religious service, journal, and talk to yourself the way your best friend would. These things are essential to keeping depression at bay.

I also have a plan when I feel like the water is at my neck. It’s reaching out to friends to help check my thinking. If some thought or behavior needs correcting, then I know they will be honest. If not, they tell me I’m irrational. I also will schedule a therapy appointment as soon as humanly possible. After those conversations, I’ve processed the underlying issue and have put together a mental strategy to combat what caused the attack on my self-esteem in the first place.

In my 20’s and post-divorce, I spent 90% of my time in a depressive state. I would say it’s less than 10% now because of changing my approach.

If you’re reading this and deal with depression or suicidal thoughts, I want you to know that none of this was as hard as I imagined. The journey of letting others love me, accepting that others love me, and loving myself has been incredibly rewarding.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

There’s life on the other side, but you have to choose to do something. Just pick one thing a day and put one foot in front of the other. You may move back two steps, but never stop crawling forward. Today, pick a therapist by going to your insurance website and making an appointment. It takes five minutes. (It’s like dating. Don’t like them? Try someone else.) tomorrow, go for a long walk. The day after, get a book called “The Undervalued Self” from the library or Amazon. Just do one thing a day.

I can tell you that there were times where I couldn’t do anything for me because I thought I wasn’t worth the effort. I began making changes for other people, and it ended up being for me. If you’re not willing to change your circumstances for you, then do it for the family weeping over your casket if you don’t. (The idea that no one would care is bullshit. That’s the idea that you should no longer allow in your mind.)

Suicide, anxiety, and depression are curable. There is hope. It just takes you deciding you are sick of living miserably and doing something about it. Within a couple of months, your entire life can be different. Trust me. It’s worth it.

P. S.

If you love someone with depression, reaching out when you see behavioral changes is always appreciated. As is patience and empathy. Hurting people will sometimes vent their pain on the safest people in their life. Give them grace. Ultimately, they have to fix themselves, but knowing they are loved and supported is an important step to lifting out of depression.

The Inexplicable Campaign Against Jordan Peterson

Read and watch Dr Jordan B Peterson lectures. Hear what he says first hand. Then read articles about him over the last two months in any magazine or newspaper and you’ll see why the media isn’t trusted. It’s a consistent campaign of defamation where his words are twisted to turn the ignorant reader against touching his work.

Why? I have no idea. He’s a decent person trying to bring decency to public discourse. That’s bad for ratings, and you wouldn’t want that to spread.

He’s not a beltway or New York writer for a magazine. The Matt Welches of the world seems to hate it when someone strikes it big and isn’t in their circle. Goddamnit, THEY are the keepers of thought in America, and there’s no room for others.

He discusses tyranny so he must be a kook. Any person that outlines the steps to authoritarianism is a nut job… Unless they are talking about Trump in a veiled way. Peterson doesn’t ever address Trump, not even in a negative way, so he’s suspect.

He’s catering to men. This is clearly a violation of the new norm being built. Only women should be encouraged to be their best selves. It is the same with his prattling on about traditional families. He must be a closeted Pat Robertson fan.

Maybe his greatest sin is trying to nuanced in a world that only wants sloganeering and simple (liberal) truths. Peterson wants people to think about politics and religion, the two subjects no one is allowed to discuss unless it’s against religion or against politics (Trump).

Part of this nuance came when he had the AUDACITY to say that a government should not arrest people for language. Canada wanted to criminalize not using the proper pronouns for transgender people. His take was that you should be respectful of a human being and use the correct pronoun, but no one should go to jail for speech. Can you imagine what kind of world we’d have if everyone was allowed to say what they want when they want? The government can’t just allow people to say offensive things.

Fortunately, the press is here to step in for the government. If they aren’t going to stop this monster then they will, even at the cost of truth.

“Education in the truest sense – education directed toward awakening a capacity to differentiate between fact and appearance – always will be a more or less furtive and illicit thing, for its chief purpose is the controversion and destruction of the very ideas that the majority of men – and particularly the majority of official and powerful men – regard as incontrovertibly true. To the extent that I am genuinely educated, I am suspicious of all the things that the average citizen believes and the average pedagogue teaches. Progress consists entirely of attacking and disposing of these ordinary beliefs.” – H.L. Mencken

Undercutting of Trump Moves from Russia to Mental Fitness

The Atlantic
January 3, 2018

The Atlantic has published a thorough piece on Trump’s sanity called Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?

The Russia investigation failed to bring Trump down, so the press and Democrats are now pivoting to Trump’s mental fitness. I am torn. I don’t want to set the precedent of questioning the sanity of those I disagree with politically. Trump makes this a very easy case for his enemies to make, though. Obviously, I am no doctor, but I do think the recent slurring, the declining verbal ability he’s had over the last three years, and his lack of impulse control are worrisome. Watch interviews from the 1990s, and there is a significant difference. Something is off with him. The revelations in this new book are only fueling the fire.

Psychiatrists aren’t allowed to comment on politicians due to something called the Goldwater Rule. Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association‘s Principles of Medical Ethics says it is unethical to comment professionally on public figures. Trump is putting that to the test.

Mental fitness will be the next front Democrats and the Washington press will fight on to undermine Trump, and his behavior only helps make their case. Trump’s insistence on seeing Hillary Clinton’s health records should apply to Trump himself. Given his immense power, he should undergo medical testing with transparency as other Presidents have.

Facebook Is Deleting Accounts at Direction of the U.S. & Israeli Governments

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept
January 2, 2017

We don’t need to have sympathy for monsters, but we do need to realize that the mechanisms created by a government are used in times of crisis to silence more voices. It is a nibble at the edge of a cookie until it all eventually disappears.

Glenn Greenwald:

Just as one might cheer the censorship of someone one dislikes without contemplating the long-term consequences of the principle being validated, one can cheer the disappearance from Facebook and Instagram of a Chechen monster. But Facebook is explicitly telling you that the reason for its actions is that it was obeying the decrees of the U.S. government about who must be shunned.

It’s hard to believe that anyone’s ideal view of the internet entails vesting power in the U.S. government, the Israeli government, and other world powers to decide who may be heard on it and who must be suppressed. But increasingly, in the name of pleading with internet companies to protect us, that’s exactly what is happening.

Search Engines Sway Voter Behavior More Than Previously Thought

The Tom Woods Podcast

This was an astounding podcast by Tom Woods. Robert Epstein is a researcher that has proved the power of search engines and social networks is swaying elections.

Click the link above to access the story.

Robert Epstein’s Bio

Robert Epstein holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University and is the author of 15 books. He is the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, founder and director emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Massachusetts, and senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology.

The End of American Hegemony

The Observer

This is a great article on the end of America’s hegemony in the world. Politicians mix up military power with America’s greatness. Playing the policeman of the world for the previous 100 years has brought disaster after disaster for our country. We are fortunately insulated by two oceans and the biggest economy in the world. Our safety is only jeopardized when we insert ourselves into conflicts that did not involve us in the first place.

Click the link above to access the story.

The Real Story of Collusion Emerges in the Mueller Investigation

A friend recently asked me to boil down the Russian-Trump investigations. What were the smoking guns? What had he supposedly done wrong? The truth is that no one has articulated clearly and accurately what Trump or his campaign had done wrong. I offered the following analysis:

Incredibly, the educated guess has become a reality due to leaks, likely from Republicans on various Congressional committees, which are exposing the seedy inner workings of the FBI and the special prosecutor’s investigation. One text, in particular, is a damning piece of evidence.

Trump Declares Jerusalem the Capital of Israel

Lookout fam… The internet is about to be filled with foreign policy experts.

The truth is that no one knows how the Arab street will react in the short-term. The long-term? There will never be peace as long as Israel exists and the governments of the U.S., Russia, and China are willing to ship weapons to Israel and Muslim nations by the billions. America will have a vastly diminished role in the Mid-East peace process, but so what? We are only involved in it so President’s can be the “one” that solves this problem. It is a vanity project. The sky is not falling and the world is not coming to an end.

This is Trump delivering on promises to his base. Trump is the first President to not pretend that he is everyone’s President. He is the President of his base. He is just not faking that he cares about the opinions of his opposition

Digital Lynchings Aren’t New – Fatty Arbuckle

No, none of what we are experiencing is new.

“At a raucous, three-day party in September 1921, a young starlet became severely ill and died four days later. Newspapers went wild with the story: popular silent-screen comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle had killed Virginia Rappe with his weight while savagely raping her.” – It wasn’t true.

If You Refuse to Condemn Predators because of Politics, You’re Disgusting

November 10, 2017

Now, I’ve had far too many people shouting, “Guilty until proven innocent!” at me over my comments on this issue, as if they’re too dumb to know that the second half of that phrase is “in a court of law.” Not to blow your mind here, but I’m actually not a court of law, and I’m allowed to believe whatever I want — and personally, I believe that Roy Moore was a predator with a penchant for teenage girls. No, not because I’m some p***y-hat-wearing snowflake (as eloquent as that argument is) but because of logic. As my colleague David French notes, there are a lot of reasons to believe these allegations: There are multiple accusers. These women didn’t come to the press seeking attention, they simply answered the questions when the press came to them. They have witnesses corroborating their stories. Finally, the woman with the most serious allegations, Leigh Corfman, voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — making the political-hit-job storyline laughable at best.

The Childish Thinking of Gun Control Advocates

Liberals give me grief when I say it’s wise to wait a day or two to comment on a mass shooting event out of respect for victims, and to give themselves time to learn what happened. We now know that the Texas shooter should have been in jail or prevented from getting a gun. Various levels of government failed to keep 26 citizens alive, so it’s juvenile to argue that more of what failed will prevent the next mass shooting.

What stopped more deaths? A well-armed citizen protecting his community. If ever there was a tragedy that should give the left the imperative to stop reacting and reasoning like children, this was it.

The criminal justice system doesn’t actually protect the victims of domestic violence. How about we fix that?

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