Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was pretty much the only children's television program seen in our house when our children were growing up. Not regularly, but occasionally, and we had several on videotape that were watched many times over. Unrelated, but interesting, is the fact that our children performed at least once in the Fred Rogers room at Rollins College, and one of them attended college in Pittsburgh and met Mister Rogers himself.
Fred Roger's legacy is enduring, and his calm, gentle, positive shows are even now being rediscovered by yet another, supposedly worldly-wise and jaded generation.
Yet I have to ask: What happens when the children grow up?
Suddenly their world is filled with people who do not like them "just the way they are"—angry, judgemental people who are quick to find fault, to mock, to sneer, and to revile. Suddenly how they look, how they think, what they believe, and how they vote sets them up as targets. Love and safety have disappeared. Mistakes are no longer seen as acceptible learning opportunities Even their Neighborhood of Make-Believe has turned dark, tragic, and frightening.
Grownups need Mister Rogers' Neighborhoods, too.