In the middle of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about Fred Rogers, the host and inspiration behind the PBS children’s television show Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, I felt like a fraud. By the end, I felt reaffirmed about myself and my hopes for our children’s future.
Rogers, the documentary makes out, was the genuine article, that rare person who practiced and believed what he preached. For Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister (and surprisingly, at least to me, a life long Republican) treating children with love and respect for their individuality was his God given mission and the message at the heart of Christianity. God loves his children just the way they are and wants them to reflect the best of themselves in everything they do.
I was a teen when Mr Rogers Neighborhood debuted. The series was not part of my formative childhood experiences. After watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and being reduced to a sobbing and repentant mess, I want to spend my life trying to catch up.
The second coming of Jesus may be quite a ways off. In the meantime I can only hope that some kind and genuine soul will bring a revival of Mr Rogers Neighborhood.