Having not grown up in America, I was unaware of who Fred Rogers was until a buzz started to gather around a biographical documentary on his life, titled ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbour’. After having it recommended to me by people whose suggestions I take seriously, I started to research him and his life and came across the role model that I never knew I had.
Fred Rogers, as I discovered, was an American TV personality who focused his attention on making television programmes for children. And he did so for decades.
What sets him apart is his unerring kindness. His philosophy was that childrens' feelings are often not taken seriously because as we grow up into adults we lose sight of what it felt like to be a child. We forget what it felt like to be scared or to be hurt or to be angry. And instead of engaging wi
h those feelings honestly and authentically, we can brush them aside as the temporary mood swings of a child. Mr Rogers pushes against that notion and demands that we treat those children with the respect that they deserve and need.
He also went against the grain by tackling really difficult topics such as death, injury, loss, anger, and many others with a tact and gentleness that could pull a children away from fear and give them real life lessons.
I don’t really have much else to say, except to recommend the documentary as required watching for anyone wanting to be kinder in this world. For the kids and the grown-ups.
I’ll end with some of his quotes that I love:
“The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they're loved and capable of loving.”
“From the time you were very little, you've had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving. So, on this extra special day, let's take some time to think of those extra special people. Some of them may be right here, some may be far away. Some may even be in heaven. No matter where they are, deep down you know they've always wanted what was best for you. They've always cared about you beyond measure and have encouraged you to be true to the best within you. Let's just take a minute of silence to think about those people now.”
"When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”
“Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like 'struggle.' To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now – and to go on caring even through times that may bring us pain.”
"There are three ways to ultimate success. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
Let’s all be like Mr Rogers.