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Won’t you be my neighbor?

mister-rogerss-neighborhood-fred-rogers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q (Mr. Rogers Defending Public Broadcasting)

People laugh when I tell them Fred Rogers is my hero.  But he was the wisest, most loving, most courageous, and most authentic human being I’ve ever “known.”

I really felt like I did know him.  I watched “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child, and then I watched it with my own children.  When I read his biography, I was surprised (and pleased) to discover that my personal philosophy and my theology were so shaped by this gentleman I’d visited with in my living room throughout my life.  And I’m convinced that if every child were to watch a rerun of his television program every day, with a loving adult by his or her side to talk through the important topics Mr. Rogers talked about with his television neighbors, this world would be a much better place.

What he had to say in the video above (at about 4:00) is a good example of the power of Fred Rogers: “If we…can only make it clear that feelings are mention-able and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.” That’s what he did every day with children (and their parents, who were learning right alongside them) – talk about real feelings. Consider these song lyrics he wrote (or listen at http://pbskids.org/rogers/songLyricsWhatDoYouDo.html )

What do you do with the mad that you feel, when you feel so mad you could bite?

When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.

Thank you, Fred Rogers, for making me who I am today, for helping me be a better parent, and for helping us all talk about our feelings.  –Amy

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