What Does It Mean to Be Special?

Did ‘Fox and Friends’ Call Fred Rogers an ‘Evil, Evil Man’?

Okay, so first of all, yes, they did, and yes, it’s so incredibly wrong and horrid and shameful. Let’s get THAT out of the way first.

However, in addition, I have a fair number of thoughts on the opposing mindsets shown. Buckle up, friends; I have some general idea of where I’m headed but I’m not sure how I’m getting there, so this may be a long, meandering ride.

So the quibble that “Fox and Friends” has with Mr. Rogers is that he told children that they were special, and that he liked them just the way they were. But apparently, they agree with Syndrome (from The Incredibles) that “when everyone’s [special], no one will be.” However, it’s not a coincidence that this is the mindset of the villain.

This mindset holds that people have no inherent value, only value relative to others. It’s not enough to be yourself; you have to be better than someone else. It’s not enough to work hard; you have to work harder than someone else. Competition, not cooperation.

Within two minutes, the host contradicts himself. At first, he slams Rogers for not telling children that they have to work hard in order to be special. Then, in the SAME SENTENCE, he says that those children start thinking Mr. Rogers lied to them because “I’m trying hard, and I’m not getting anywhere.” So does trying hard make you special? Or not?

At heart is what it means to be special. According to Fred Rogers it means you’re unique, and you have inherent value. It doesn’t mean you have more value than others – but that’s what the “Fox and Friends” hosts and their “expert” seem to think. They equate “special” with “entitled to privileges that others aren’t.” And I agree that this sort of “special-ness” isn’t a good thing. However, I think that this isn’t what it means to be special, and I certainly don’t think it’s what Mr. Rogers meant.

This shows how important it is to be careful with words – both in what you say to others, as well as in understanding what others are saying to you. As an English teacher, this is something that’s very close to my heart.

This originated as a Facebook post in which I elaborated on the article from Snopes when it crossed my feed.

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