I joke when I say I belong to the church of Mr. Fred Rogers. People close me know how much I admire the late great TV host and often send me quotes, vids or articles about him. So when my husband and I went to the local community theatre to see the new documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, it was as much about being a flock member of his media ministry as it was much needed relief from the recent weeks in our country. Images of children separated from their families and behind wired fences is nothing short of a battle cry for compassion, care and reason. Of course, children the world over are suffering in unconscionable ways. Somehow it hurts more when it’s closer to home and under our country’s watch.
We need you Mr. Rogers.
I was three years old when the first season of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood aired. I was five when I got a FAO Schwarz stuffed animal for Christmas, a spotted leopard named Rango. To me he was a kindred spirit to puppet Daniel Striped Tiger and he soaked up buckets of snot and tears. Decades later Rango was adopted by my youngest daughter, although not with the same passion I once held as a lifeline. Even one glance at the now floppy cub, who is relegated to a bookshelf, infuses me with a love so big that I grin with gratitude every time.
Fabulous reviews about this Rogers documentary abound and you will simply have to see it for yourself. It is a salve for our times. The subtitle is “A little kindness makes a world of difference.” We all know that’s true. It’s just harder to implement on a moment-to-moment basis as seems warranted now.
When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed. – Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers didn’t creep me out like some say. I was the perfect age for his pace of teaching and doctrine of love. I needed calm and consistency in order to deal with big questions I could only feel rather than understand when my family was breaking apart. We might all benefit from slowing down enough to listen to our own hearts and hear our own breath.
Fred Rogers’ kindness was fierce and compelling, soft and hard, timeless and true. He respected children: their vulnerability, imagination, and curiosity. He believed that what mattered — an enduring empathy and respect for the human condition — in all its variations, was also “invisible to the eye.” This is the subtle caring that inhabits the spaces between and within each other. I imagine this belief was also a nod to the 1943 children’s book, The Little Prince, that also impressed me so:
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Mr. Rogers showed us that there is good in this world and we can be part of it: Love Thy Neighbor. Love Thy Self. His numerology was: 1-4-3.
I L-O-V-E Y-O-U.
This is heart work. We need his legacy and light to speak loud and clear. It’s up to us.
Your fellow lightworker,
More Matters in Kind