I just watched a documentary on Mr. Rogers. Do you remember watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as a kid? I do. My parents were fighting and drinking a lot and PBS was my safe hide away, especially Mr. Rogers who wasn’t afraid of talking about divorce and hard issues. He always talked about emotions and it’s normal to have feelings. The best part was from the time he put on his sweater and laced up his sneakers I was safe in his world of make believe.
This Documentary titled, “Mr. Rogers and Me,” was about a lot of cool people whose lives have been changed by the kind words and listening ear of their friend and mentor Mr. Fred Rogers.
There were so many profound statements that this gentle giant left behind for us, that I had to write them in a post for you. I hope you are able to pick up a few and pocket them, roll them around in your mind, place them in your heart, and be inspired to use them as your own.
As a Presbyterian ordained minister, his mission statement for the world around him came from the commandments of God. “Love your Neighbor as yourself.” Everyone’s neighbor, Mr. Rogers, wanted us to realize we should treat everyone we come in contact with as our neighbor. We should also love them as we would love ourselves.
He also said, “If you don’t like yourself, you will always see wrong in your neighbors. Only when you can love yourself, will you be able to love your neighbor.” I believe this is why he would always remind us on his show, “I like you just the way you are.”
In this hateful and greedy world we live in filled with want, I find myself craving the simple, consistent, and safe truths of Mr. Rogers. I learned from his life that he was exactly the same person as he was in front of the camera. People said that when he entered a room the atmosphere changed. He simply believed that, “True wholesomeness rises to the top,” and “You don’t have to be loud to be heard.”
There were testimonials from a writer of MTV to a well known journalist who talked about opening up in front of this man and crying to him about their deepest hurts, and greatest fears. Just by Mr. Rogers being who he was created to be and truly loving people, he was able to breed a safe environment for people to do the same. His advice to them was, “The best thing we can be is our honest self.” and, “Often when you think your at the end of something, your usually at the beginning of something else.”
Then at the end of the documentary and just before his life had also come to a close, they filmed a close up. Mr. Rogers began talking into the camera, and I felt he was looking straight into my eyes as he had often done over thirty years ago. He spoke these words right to me and hopefully to you as well:
” I’m just so proud of you that have grown up with me. I know how hard it can be to look toward the future months and years with hope. But I want to share with you, when you were much younger I used to tell you, I like you just the way you are, I’m so grateful now for who you have become; for helping the children in your life. To do everything you can to keep them safe and bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know where life long friends.”
With tears streaming down my face, believing God just spoke to me through Mr. Rogers, I decided I will not be discouraged with the greatness of trying to heal our broken youth and inspire our next generation to make a change. Just you and me having the courage to be who we were created to be in our own neighborhoods will spark the ones around us and spread an unquenchable fire of inspiration.
Let us bring these deep and simple truths to a surface and complex world.