I recently watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary presented at the Sundance Festival that retraces the story of Fred Rogers and its show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
I didn’t grow up with the show, as many did. I discovered Mr. Rogers and his reassuring trademark sweaters later in life, and I still remember the first time I stumbled upon him: it was mind-opening. I’ve rarely experienced such a beautiful mix of compassion, empathy, kindness and authentic, genuine interest for other human beings. A pure expression of care.
It’s easy to fall into the traps of either looking at Mr. Rogers as a sort of heroic figure, or let cynicism guide our thoughts. My stance is to believe that the values he embodies are within everyone’s reach and not for superheroes only. And that these values are still compelling and much-needed nowadays, in the year that marks the 50th anniversary since the children’s show was first broadcast nationally.
Simplicity can be something powerful and shattering at the same time, especially when it sheds light on a truth we all know, deep done in our hearts: it is OK to feel.