Mr. Rogers, We Need You

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? A Fred Rogers documentary, 2018

“Love is at the root of everything.”

Fred Rogers

Why you should watch it:

  • To be reminded of Mr. Rogers’ message that we all deserve love
  • To see what someone giving his undivided time and attention looks and feels like
  • To remember a great man who helped people acknowledge and honor their own specialness

“It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling”

I wanted to see this documentary on Mr. Rogers because I remember this odd, puppet-wielding, slow-talking, shoes- and sweater-changing man making me feel:

  • Special
  • Listened to
  • Loved

After four decades, Mr. Rogers still has that effect on me. His intention to cherish childhood and his message about our worth remain.

For lots of kids whose parents were working, busy with other siblings, or absent, Mr. Rogers offered a heart that had time and space for you. Neither my stay-at-home mom nor work-from-home small businessman dad could create Mr. Rogers’ manner of total acceptance, unhurried time, and non-judgmental welcome. I don’t do this with my kids either, but I admire Mr. Rogers-like parenting in my friends.

Fred Rogers’ show created a cherished oasis of childhood in stark contrast to the rushed, critical, pettiness of the real world.

One of Mr. Rogers’ daily songs. Try to listen to it and not be glad. Lyrics to “It’s Such a Good Feeling” here

Of course, he was an ordained minister. Now, it makes perfect sense.

Love is at the root of everything:
All learning,
All parenting,
All relationships.
Love, or the lack of it.

“And what we see or hear on the screen is part of who we become.”

Fred Rogers

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood may seem like a relic, but our country needs Fred Rogers’ message to love each other and to love ourselves more than ever. As we tear each other down blaming, accusing, and hating, we demonstrate an overwhelming lack of self-love. Happy, contented people don’t treat others that way.

How did a generation whose parents grew up with his show and his “You are special” message turn out like this?

Image by dara nilrothanak from Pixabay

According to Junlei Li, Co-Director of Fred Rogers Center in 2018, Rogers did not mean entitlement when he said, “You are special.”

“If you don’t believe that everyone has inherent value, you might as well go against the fundamental notion of Christianity that you are the beloved son or daughter of God.”

Junlei Li

During his last commencement speech, Rogers told the audience what he meant each time he said, “You are special.”

“What that ultimately means, of course, is that you don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.”

Fred Rogers

It’s not about participation trophies; it’s about a person’s inherent worth.

Act

Begin your year, and every day, believing and acting on Fred Rogers’ sentiment.


Resources

Darity, Nathan. “What Fred Rogers Taught Me About Courage” and video lecture “Junlei Li: Co-Director of the Fred Rogers Center.” Creative Mornings, PG, https://creativemornings.com/talks/junlei-li. Accessed 25 December 2019.

Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College, https://www.fredrogerscenter.org/.

GENIUS. It’s Such a Good Feeling (weekend edition) lyrics. https://genius.com/Fred-rogers-its-such-a-good-feeling-weekend-edition-lyrics. Accessed 25 December 2019.

PBS KIDS. “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood: ‘It’s Such a Good Feeling’ song.” PBS KIDS video on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuSA1Ku0Kh0. Accessed 25 December 2019.

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