We need more of Mis­ter Rogers

The Island Packet - - Opinion -

“Won’t you be my neigh­bor?”

Those pow­er­ful words im­ply­ing friend­ship, com­pas­sion and love for one an­other are also the ti­tle of the new documentary film cur­rently re­ceiv­ing rave re­views by the­ater au­di­ences through­out the coun­try.

It doc­u­ments Fred Rogers and his PBS pro­gram, “Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood,” which be­gan in 1968 and con­tin­ued for more than 30 years. His TV show ed­u­cated our chil­dren — and adults, too — on how to re­spect the dig­nity of oth­ers, among other things.

Columnist David Brooks de­scribed Rogers as hav­ing the power of nat­u­ral kind­ness in a time when kind­ness is scarce. At the film’s con­clu­sion, wet eyes and thun­der­ous ap­plause be­came anti-cli­mac­tic. Rogers’ unique charisma left a legacy of eth­i­cal di­men­sions that was grounded in ci­vil­ity and love.

His calm de­meanor was in­fec­tious to his young view­ers. His sim­plic­ity of teach­ing re­marks, such as, “make the most of this beau­ti­ful day,” and “feel­ing good about our­selves is es­sen­tial to our be­ing able to love oth­ers,” had pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment for all of us.

This one is spot on: “Be­ing able to re­solve con­flicts peace­fully is one of the great­est strengths we can give our chil­dren.”

Where is this com­pas­sion to­day? We need the ap­pli­ca­tion of more Rogers-like phi­los­o­phy now when dis­trust and hate abound in our so­ci­ety. It can be­gin with your com­mit­ment and mine.

Rogers’ last PBS mes­sage came shortly be­fore his pass­ing in 2003. Ap­pro­pri­ately, it was the very words he ended his pro­grams with:

“Re­mem­ber, I like you just the way you are.”

– Earle Everett

Moss Creek

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