Won’t you be my neighbor?


I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking of Mr. Rogers lately. I think in a world that seems so full of bad news and immoral people it can be nice to remember one of modern times’ genuinely good public figures.

I think most of us can remember watching Mr. Rogers as a little kid. Waiting for the little trolley to come around the bend or for Fred to take off his shoes and feed the fish. It’s the little things. I think it was a unique show in the sense that it encouraged patience and thought. Most kids’ shows can be educational in a math and English sense, but I feel like Mr. Rogers encouraged life lessons beyond that.

Encouraging kids to think about themselves and others as real people, to recognize that even we little people have a real impact on others every day, was a unique message. I don’t think any other show on for kids today really hits that message in the same way.

What’s more outstanding to me is that the show wasn’t an act. Fred Rogers was actually a genuine and honest person. There are countless stories of Mr. Rogers being awesome. One of my favorites was when he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Years prior, he had a child named Jeff Erlanger on. Jeff was paralyzed due to a tumor he had when he was a baby. On the show, Fred was just as warm and accepting as you’d expect. Fast forward now 18 years to the Television Hall of Fame award show. The person handing Mr. Rogers his award is none other than Jeff. Mr. Roger’s face immediately lit up.

You could plainly see he remembered this child he had on the show 18 years ago and was honored to be handed his award by someone he impacted in a real way.

Mr. Rogers also saved public television. In May of 1969, the U.S. Senate met to decide on budget cuts for PBS and other public media. Fred Rogers delivered a very moving speech. He emphasized the importance of children having a way to receive a message of acceptance, patience and positivity.

His speech moved the chairman so much the budget was almost instantaneously approved. The content of Fred Rogers’ speech wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking. However, he spoke from the heart, and he communicated his message and his mission with a kind of warm determination only someone like Mr. Rogers could.

It is rare that someone like Mr. Rogers comes around. Someone so thoroughly devoted to leaving the world better than they found it. I think we could all learn a bit from Fred. We should all remember our actions can impact everyone around us. Something as small as including someone who’s usually an outcast can completely change their day. Ultimately, we should all just try to be a good neighbor.