To the editor:
French aviator and author Antoine de St. Exupery (1900-1944) wrote: “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” He lived through two world wars and saw what happens when people lose faith in their noblest dreams. He believed that shared vision has the power to exercise the goodness in the human heart.
The wisdom of St. Exupery’s not-just-for-children “The Little Prince” is especially appropriate for us now, when partisanship threatens to undermine our democracy by preventing us from working together. Agreements involve settling for something less-than-perfect in the short term in order to reach, eventually, a long-term vision of peace.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is the new movie that affirms this positive vision. Mr. Rogers, like Exupery, addressed the vulnerable, open-hearted child in all of us. He helped us handle the anger we sometimes feel so that we don’t allow it to become harmful to ourselves and others. And when tragedy occurs, he advised us to “Look to the helpers” who inspire us with their compassion and bravery.
Imagine what we Americans might accomplish if we focused on what is true and beautiful and kind, not only in the world but also in each other. Whether we live in an urban area, where human energy is evident in many creative projects, or in rural areas, where nature’s beauty can make us humble and reverent, and no matter what sort of education we have received, we can choose to solve problems by working together with courage and hope.
It seems our democracy is at a turning point, and we have all the tools we need to prove that people of different experience can compromise. It’s a matter of sharing a vision of freedom and justice for all. “What is essential is invisible to the human eye,” wrote St. Exupery. Fred Rogers would have agreed.