I’m afraid that if I tell you that I cried through the whole “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” movie you won’t want to see it — and you should definitely, DEFINITELY see it. It’s an amazing documentary about an amazing man: Mr. Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers).
Mr. Rogers was a quintessential grownup. Just the fact that he’s always referred to as “mister” signifies that the friendship he offered his young fans wasn’t about condescending to us or compensating for his own lost youth. When he greeted us, he shed his suit jacket for a cardigan and traded his loafers for sneakers. But his tie stayed on, and his warmth carried a gentle formality. Mr. Rogers wasn’t shy about being a role model or a benevolent authority figure. On the contrary, he took the responsibility of adulthood seriously. And I fear he might have been the last of his kind. That’s what made me cry – along with these other reasons:
- I fear that the politics of division is making us cynical and mean
- I wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be kind to each other
- We are not doing enough to protect our children (and when I say “our” I mean ALL children, whether they were fortunate enough to be born in the USA or not)
- We all long for unconditional love and to be accepted just as we are. Why is that so difficult?
By the way Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister, but he’s a far cry from most of the pompous televangelist clergy of today. He didn’t jam his religious beliefs down your throat. He was living them, and by his example, we were encouraged to live them too.
To quote the New York Times, “Mister Rogers’s demeanor balanced openness with reserve, curiosity with tact. The most radical thing about him was his unwavering commitment to the value of kindness in the face of the world that could seem intent on devising new ways to be mean. ‘Let’s make the most of this beautiful day,’ he would sing at the start of each episode. He made it sound so simple, but also as if he knew just how hard it could be.”
This is NOT a sad movie. It’s touching, and hopeful, and funny. If you see it, please let me know what you thought. I’d love to hear from you.