We went to see the Mr. Rogers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?“, last weekend, and ever since I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about it. I cried at least five times and I wasn’t alone. Snuffle-snorts were pretty much happening throughout the whole theater.
It wasn’t just that Mr. Rogers took on Congress when he needed funding, or that he turned right around with that money and made shows to comfort children in the face of war. It wasn’t just that Mr. Rogers quietly and relentlessly showed children that race didn’t matter. Or being scared. Or being different. It wasn’t even that Rogers… a Christian minister… was strong enough to follow his own advice to change his own views on homosexuality and show a dear friend how much he was loved.
It was how cleanly and boldly that single theme ran through this man – Love.
Fred Rogers showed it so purely and tirelessly that he baffled people. Some felt uncomfortable while others made up rumors about him to explain it away. It wasn’t that he was trying to get a reaction out of people. It was that he loved so freely from shame or embarrassment that people didn’t know what to make of it.
Which is really far more of an issue with us than him. This movie is describing the story of a man with sight to the Valley of the Blind.
I was talking about this topic with a friend this morning and wondered if we each made a list of all the people we Loved, then marked off next to each name the ones we had actually clearly and sincerely said “I love you” too, what percentage of the list would be marked off. Half? Less?
Fred Rogers would have aced that test.