Sunday, January 1, 2017

In Praise of Mr. Rogers

When I was young, one of my favorite children's programs was Captain Kangaroo. The Captain (Bob Keeshan) was a gentle, comfortable, but sometimes silly character who interacted with live friends like Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Brannum) and assorted puppets - Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, and Dancing Bear especially.

By the time my daughters were born the Captain was essentially off the air (except for some reruns). But they did watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which featured the gentle, comfortable Mr. (Fred) Rogers along with live performers - especially Mr. McFeely (David Newell) and Lady (Betty) Aberlin, and puppets such as Daniel Striped Tiger, Bob Dog, King Friday XII, X the Owl, and more.

The show introduced music and the arts, dealt with issues children face, promoted love and acceptance and caring about others. In a frantic, sometimes dark world, the show gave the children a chance to slow down and find peace and quiet, and to exercise their imaginations.

Alas, the girls eventually stopped watching the show and they grew older and went to school, but I always had a fondness for it and Mr. Rogers' wise, wonderful, positive view of the world.

A few years back, one of my daughters gave me a copy of a book published after Mr. Rogers' death in 2003, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, a collection of his observations, memories, songs, and even the speech he gave when he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.

I loved the gift, sampled some of the entries, then put it on the bookcase planning to read it. I recently rediscovered it, and feeling the need these days for some positive, uplifting sentiments, I read it all the way through.

It did not disappoint. Part of joy of it is the seeming simplicity of the ideas.

You bring all you ever were and are to any relationship you have today.

One of the most essential ways of saying "I love you" is being a receptive listener.

I like to try to understand the meaning of who people are and what they're saying to me.

Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else.

Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort.

Reading it makes me want to be a better, kinder, more caring person

This is a book I will continue to sample and will want to read again.

Pax et bonum

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