December 1, 2020

Mr. Rogers Is Helping Me - Really?

courtesy NPR.org

A much shorter post than normal for me, but the message is quite straightforward. 

Recently I have been kind of immersed in the life and impact of Mr. Rogers. I guess that's a little odd for someone my age, but there is something so hopeful and encouraging about how he went about teaching and influencing children with a sincere approach.

He honestly cared about people "just the way they are," and he truly listened to what children (and adults) were saying when they expressed worries or concerns. Then, he responded in a way that reflected those worries while offering an explanation designed to comfort and calm the person he communicated with. He didn't sugarcoat bad things but helped a young mind process them.

I thought about the way he dealt with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, or toward the end of his life, how he addressed children and their parents right after 9/11. He had a way of speaking slowly, choosing his words and inflection with great care, all while acknowledging the uneasiness others felt at that moment.

Like you, I have been worrying a lot about the fate of our country. Under assault by a deadly virus, racial unrest, an illogical refusal by many regarding masks or simple safety precautions, and the effect of an election that, at times, seemed destined to veer completely off the rails. I have had some trouble sleeping and turning off the chatter.

But, in listening to a tremendous podcast about Fred Rogers (Finding Fred on all major podcast sites) and reading a few books about his approach to worry and uncertainty, his total love for others, and his unfailing optimism for the human race, I feel better than I have in a while.

Maybe just pulling away from my own filters and trying to see things through someone else's' eyes, like Mr. Rogers, is exactly what I needed at this point.

Mr. Rogers was a unique TV personality and human being, one we can look to for comfort and encouragement. Thank for the virtual warm hugs, Fred.


26 comments:

  1. Fred Rogers was a unique, benevolent gem of a guy. Stepping outdoors on a gorgeous day, I still find myself saying, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." He influenced the lives of an incredible number of people in such positive ways, young and old alike. The world could use more heroes like Mr. Rogers, but I'm afraid he truly was one of a kind.

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    1. Growing up I didn't watch Mr. Rogers. Howdy Doody was what was on our TV. But, as I grew older, my appreciation for the type of man he was and how he lived his values has increased. He was the same on-screen and off: a rare commodity in show business.

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  2. Like you I am not sleeping well either and I saw an article on that in the newspaper just this weekend. It seems to be a common problem with those reporting insomnia increasing from 36% to 50% since the pandemic began.

    Thanks for tip on the Finding Fred podcast, I'll give it a listen.

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    1. The podcast is very well done. I am disappointed it only had a limited number of episodes.

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  3. I think many of us are ready for a kinder gentler leader, for a sense of order and focus, going forward.I am just gritting my teeth,meditating,praying, and keeping myself as healthy and content as I can while trying to ignore the idiot who still lives in the White House.. it is almost over.

    I believe it will take some time to repair America. I am also aware that my vision of what we can be is probably overly optimistic ( a trait I will never give up..) So, we are left to do what we CAN DO ourselves: Act more responsibly, be kinder to one another, focus on our own sphere of influence, and maintain our faith,somehow.

    Yes, i think Mr. Rogers is a great role model for all this, in times of great turmoil!!

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    1. The recent movies about him, as well as the books, shows a hunger for his brand of masculinity and humanity. This would be a much better world if Fred Rogers was common, not just a one-off.

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  4. I saw the movie put out about Rogers last year, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and fell in love with him all over again.

    Surprisingly there are critics out there who tried to tear his legacy apart after that movie came out.
    “Fox & Friends” morning program aired segments with the titles “Blame Mr. Rogers,” “Was Mr. Rogers Wrong?” and “Is Mr. Rogers Ruining Kids?” and one of them called Rogers an “evil, evil man” for supposedly creating a generation of children to grow up with a so-called sense of self-entitlement and the feminiaztion of males. Of course, all this happened after Fred's widow said something negative about Trump. This it how far we've fallen in this country that we can't even agree on an icon like Mr. Rogers. I don't know what it's going to take to repair America but it's not going to be easy. But it can't hurt to promote more of us to listen to the podcasts of Mr. Rogers.

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    1. Certain people are absolutely desperate if tearing down Mr. Rogers is what they promote. I wonder how poorly Jesus would fare with Fox and Friends? Probably not well.

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  5. We saw the Mr. Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Came out roughly two years ago. Very good.

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    1. If you haven't seen it, also watch Tom Hanks' portrayal of Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood.

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    2. i really enjoyed that movie a lot..it was not what i thought it would be.. but BETTER!!

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  6. Hi Bob! I remember watching Mr. Rogers with some of my younger cousins "back in the day." And although I considered myself too grown up for him, I still remember his shows as being gentle, kind and hypnotically peaceful. Yes, we made fun of him but some of his regular actions and saying stayed with us. He was a model and a mentor for all of us who watched his show EVEN when we didn't realize it. Too bad we haven't had one like him for a very long time. Thanks for the reminder. ~Kathy

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    1. I wasn't really aware of him until my daughters were young.They were more fans of Fraggle Rock. But, I did see some of shows and appreciated his approach. Now, I am even more a fan

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  7. I totally agree with you about Mr Rogers. I honestly think that some of the goodness in our children come from watching Mr Rogers and Capt Kangaroo and Sesame Street when they were kids.

    Those were the shows that were on in our house when the TV was on – and there were no games for them to play on the tv where people were chasing and shooting, etc – no Playstation or whatever the other ones are.

    I still have the album Free to Be You and Me that Marlo Thomas put out with wonderful songs that encourage love and caring. So much of it seems Hokey to kids today. but our kids loved those shows and the people on them.

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    1. I would not want to be a parent today. Social media, video games, violent TV shows...I am not sure I would know how to navigate such a world with young minds to shape. Everything wasn't smooth sailing during the Fred Rogers, Captain Kangaroo era, but with fewer outside influences, I felt my wife and I had a better chance at providing our children with a solid foundation.

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  8. Pat's comment reminded me of a very memorable experience we had when our kids were in elementary school. Through my volunteer work with the PTA, I had the privilege of meeting "The Uncle Brothers" at an Arts in Education Showcase and subsequently booking them for a performance at our school. The "brothers" were two musicians - Tom Gardner and Danny Quinn - who performed a musical show based on positive traits and themes like appreciation, tolerance, perseverance, imagination, sharing, respect and avoidance of smoking and drugs. The messages were, of course, directed toward the kids, but the upbeat music was likeable and parents could easily listen to and enjoy it, as well. When I first heard The Uncle Brothers perform, I can remember thinking, "THIS is the kind of music I want my kids growing up with" and we still have all of their CDs.

    As their host when The Uncle Brothers visited our school, I got to know Tom and Danny, and these guys were the real deal. We became friends and our entire family would attend their performances throughout our end of the state. Our kids adored them - they were fun to be with, caring, and so good about emphasizing everyone's positive traits. Sadly, Danny passed away some years back, but Tom still performs as The Uncle Brothers with one or two other musicians. Let's hope that good people with solid values still exist out there and will continue their efforts to circulate positive messages among our children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, in today's society, our kids need all the positive reinforcement they can get.

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    1. That's a great memory and reminds me of another musical duo that had songs for kids full of positive messages and humor: Rosenshontz. My daughters grew up listening to their music. I still have one of their vinyl albums from 1980 that my grandkids have discovered while using my turntable. Remarkably, the record is 40 years old and still sounds good!

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  9. My kids grew up watching Mr. Rogers and he was such a gem. A simple show that taught such profound lessons for us all. As my DH will tell you, I would watch Tom Hanks read the phone book, so I'm prejudiced for sure, but I thought he did an amazing job of becoming Mr. Rogers for the movie. Loved it!

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    1. If you haven't seen the documentary, "Wouldn't You be My Neighbor," it is worth watching. The backstory of Fred's life is fascinating and explains the man.

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  10. A wonderful role model. And hey, no problem at all learning from and embracing the wisdom from someone whose primary audience was children. Wisdom can come from surprising sources if we listen with an open mind.

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    1. You and I know of the tremendous insight and wisdom that comes from grandkids. They see a world full of opportunities, not barriers. And, they tend to see people as good and worthy of getting to know.

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  11. Thank you for the comforting and optimistic words. I'm finding it hard to see the positive right now, so it's a good reminder to focus more on people like Mr Rodgers.

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  12. We had a Canadian equivalent to Mr Rogers on children’s TV when my kids were young — Fred Penner. Like Mr Rogers, he presented a positive approach to life and relationships, and my children (especially my older daughter) loved watching his show. We had the opportunity to see some of his live concerts. Whenever I was feeling particularly grumpy, I would put on a Fred Penner CD and it would cheer me up.

    Jude

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    1. I assume each country has their own version. The appeal to both parents and children is universal, though I guess somewhat dated. I don't spend time with children's programming now, but I imagine there are some present day options, beside the old standby, Sesame Street.

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