"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes."
Last year I read Jonathan Kozol’s Ordinary Resurrections, a very personal (and moving) book about Kozol’s time spent with the children of Mount Haven, a neighborhood located in the South Bronx. While there his friend, Fred Rogers, asked if he could visit and spend some time with the children there.
“When Mr. Rogers came here to Mott Haven, there was a stampede of children wanting to be close to him. They treated him as if they’d known him for a long, long time- which, in a sense, they had. He treated them as if he knew them too. He didn’t make a lot of general remarks about them later on. He spoke of individuals.
“He knows so much more than most people do about the lives and personalities of children; but he didn’t let himself be drawn to any overquick conclusions. He asked the children many questions. He asked the mothers and grandmothers questions too. He also gave them time to answer. I never thought about ‘prescriptive overconfidence’ while he was there. I thought of someone walking in the woods and being careful not to step on anything that lives.”
There are so few nationally recognizable advocates for our nation’s children, in fact, I’m having a hard time thinking of anybody with namebrand recognition. How sad. But look, it really is a beautiful day in the neighborhood- the sun is shining, cherry blossoms are blooming, trees are budding and little yellow wildflowers are popping up everywhere. I’m going to put on my sneakers and a sweater and take a walk.