04 January 2011

What do you do with the mad that you feel?

The title of this post is a quote from a young boy who inspired a Mr. Rogers song.  I heard it recently as I watched this video, shared with me by my sister, of Mr. Rogers defending funding for PBS:

What a wonderful man.  I grew up watching Fred Rogers, and can remember thinking about being special, thinking that it was a "good feeling, just being alive."  Watching this, I appreciate even more as an adult his calm voice, his caring, and his sense of the time and attention children need to be feel understood and loved.

At the end of this clip, he speaks the words to the song I mentioned above, "What do you Do?"  It is a beautiful teaching about dealing with difficult emotions, and centers on the importance of feeling able to make choices, even when upset.
What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.
So much strife comes out of moments when it feels like there is only one truth, and no choice.  But there is always choice in how we react to how we feel; there is always a choice where action is concerned.

Sadly, many people are not empowered to make that choice, they are gripped by the emotion and the fear.  They do not experience the empowerment that comes with dealing with a painful emotion with strength, reason, and faith -- faith in oneself, and in the humanity of us all.

May 2011 be a year of strength, tolerance, and joy for all of us.   May we believe we are special, and know that we can stop, stop, stop, any time.  Mister Rogers would want it that way.

Listen to Mister Rogers sing the song.
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