Updated: Nov 7, 2018
On a flight recently, after some complicated downloading of an entertainment app, I watched the documentary Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. By the end I was moved to tears. This is a very important film that everyone should see.
My enthusiasm for the message conveyed in the film, comes in the wake of killings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, pipe bombs being sent to journalists, former presidents, entertainers and politicians and the divisiveness that exists all around us.
Mr. Rogers show was simple, basic sets, based on his idea that television was a very important vehicle for influencing children. The underpinning principals conveyed were caring, support, concern for oneself and ones friends, family, and neighbours. Mr. Rogers spoke to children and adults with respect, honesty, compassion and encouragement. He listened when he asked a question and paused giving time for both people to think and attend to what was going on in the conversation.
This television show didn't shirk away from showing what was right and what was wrong. When blacks were not allowed to swim in "white only" swimming pools, Mr. Rogers sat with the black postman on the show and shared a small wading pool with him, as they cooled their feet together on a hot day. Nothing else needed to be said.
When assassinations occurred, he didn't shy away from using the word and speaking to his audience in age appropriate ways. He always told children they were perfect just the way they are.
I am sure Mr. Rogers was not a perfect man, although he sure did seem like one in this documentary. He died in 2003. Where is our current Mr. Rogers. Who can speak with care, kindness, compassion and speak up for right and wrong? Who can speak the truth and show respect for children and adults?
When we look around us and despair, it is each and everyone of our own individual responsibility to be Mr. Rogers. To see him as a shining example of goodness and emulate his behaviour while we encourage others to do so as well.