By Mary Bridges, chaplain
I hope some of you got to see the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” which was at the Art Cinema recently. It is sure to stir the emotions of those watching it. I felt a lot of guilt and sadness as I watched it, because growing up my children watched Captain Kangaroo.
I did feel much better when I got home and Googled this children’s program. It was shown on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), and PBS didn’t come to our area until 1982 when KOOD signed on. It wasn’t my fault that my children missed Fred Roger’s educational experience.
A.O. Scott with The New York Times wrote, “The documentary shows the low budget set, where the show started in 1968. Cast, crew, family and others shared their memories of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, inhabited mainly by Mr. Roger’s puppet alter egos. Then there are the clips from different episodes, which highlighted Mr. Roger’s positive messages of acceptance and unconditional love.”
It begins with an old clip of Fred Rogers, a trained composer at the piano, explaining his approach to communicating with children by way of the musical concept of modulation. Some changes of key, he says, are easy enough to manage, while others are trickier. And so it is with feelings.”
Other generations of American children learned letters and numbers from Sesame Street, phonics from The Electric Company, and civics and grammar from Schoolhouse Rock! What Mister Rogers tried to teach us—how to navigate “some of the more difficult modulations” in everyday life—might now be classified as emotional literacy. He acknowledged that anger, fear and other kinds of hurt are part of the human repertoire and that children need to learn to speak honestly about those feelings, and to trust the people they share them with.”
Here are a couple of quotes that I really liked. “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.”
The second one was, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
In the Bible we are commanded to love our neighbors and depending on the translation there are forty-two verses that mention neighbor, and those verses encourage us to be good to our neighbors with eight verses telling us to, “Love your neighbor."
Jesus too emphasized loving our neighbors and helping our neighbors. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan he was asked which of the three was actually the man’s neighbor. They answered him, “The one who had mercy on him," so Jesus told them “Go and do likewise.”
Remember the words to Mr. Roger’s song, “It’s You I Like.”
It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.
Please won’t you be my neighbor?