“WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?”

Today’s blog does not highlight a woman. It is about a man named Fred Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers is deceased but he has a message for both men and women and while his contributions were in the latter part of the 20th century, his message is still applicable today and in fact, is very much-needed message.

Fred Rogers believed in the importance of making childhood a safe place and in helping children know that they could be loved just as they were. His songs, his TV show and all that he did throughout his life consistently reflected his belief that the strength of our society rested on the development of our children.

The following quotes from Fred Rogers offer great insight into what he believed and what he hoped to accomplish:

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

“The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”

“In a way, you’ve already won in this world because you’re the only one who can be you!”

“We live in a world in which we need to SHARE RESPONSIBILITY.  It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, NOT MY PROBLEM.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond, I consider those people my heroes.”

Mr. Rogers was a Force of Influence throughout his entire adult life. He was soft-spoken, unassuming, and mild-mannered man. But that doesn’t begin to tell you who he was. He was passionate, and courageous, and determined to make a difference in the lives of children. He never gave up on what he believed and he didn’t avoid difficult situations.

A video clip of Mr. Rogers speaking to the senate Subcommittee on Communications in 1969 is well-worth viewing. The committee wanted to withdraw funding from public television. Fred Rogers won over Senator Pastore’ who had already stated he wasn’t in favor of the funding and all but said it would never be approved. It would be worth your time to look up the video on You Tube. Just do a search for Fred Rogers and the senate hearing for funding of public television. It’s about 6:30 minutes.

I also highly recommend seeing the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” by Morgan Neville. It’s in theaters now. The Kansas City Star carried an editorial on Sunday about the movie. This quote sums up the impact of the movie and the life of Mr. Rogers nicely,

“There’s nothing obviously moving here, and yet the audience is moved. The power is in Rogers’ radical kindness at a time when public kindness is scare. It’s as if the pressure of living in a time such as ours gets released in that theater as we’re reminded that, oh yes, that’s how people can be.”                            David Brooks, New York Times News Service

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