One Reporter’s Ramblings ...
I was a regular visitor to the Land of Make-Believe as a kid.
When I was very young, Mom would monitor anything I watched closely. Two shows that were deemed OK were “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Because of this nostalgia and the tremendous amount of respect I have for Fred Rogers, the ordained minister turned television host, I was excited to to see the documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is now available on DVD.
The film is more than a mere retrospective of the show, as it explains Rogers’ personal beliefs as a Republican, Christian and educator and how those shaped the content he produced.
I highly recommend it to anyone who was raised watching the program, which is probably a lot, considering the show ran from 1968 to 2001.
It is, by and large, a feel-good movie, although there were two points in his life that I found tragic.
Rogers based his show on the belief that he was only talking to “one child” — that child being whoever was on the other side of the TV screen.
He wanted to tell that child that they were special and accepted for who they were. He said that he didn’t believe any child could adequately grow without hearing that.
This message came under fire in the 1990s for the laziness of the youth, with several saying that kids being told they were special killed their drive to be better or set goals.
It was a popular narrative that mistook the word special for skilled or talented and not a statement on the value of human worth.
He was also criticized for being tolerant of homosexual friends. This led to the picketing of his funeral by the Westboro Baptist Church, who would often picket high-profile and military funerals to spread the message that God is displeased with America’s acceptance of sin.
The film actually makes a point that we all have people like Fred in our lives who accept us and want to see us succeed, but these stories show criticism for a Christian who wanted to spread a message of love.
I think it’s a powerful but simple message and it’s important for us to remember as this election draws to a close. Some of us are Republican, some are Democrats, but we’re all human beings ... and neighbors.
Gaudette is a staff writer at the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and firstname.lastname@example.org .