Can you imagine if Mister Rogers tried to get on the air in 2019?
An older man offering to host a kiddie show? In this age of social media, we would pick him and his motives clean.
Just try to estimate the shelf life of a new kids’ show in 2019 without a cacophony of special effects, but rather a man in a cardigan sweater, singing hokey, off-key songs about sharing and what to do when you’re sad.
Who doubts that in 2019, Rogers would be dinged for being too simplistic?
When I was little, I waited in vain for “Romper Room’s” “Miss Barbara” to call out my name as she peered through her magic mirror.
(Yep, still bitter about it)
Now, imagine being a child in a wheelchair in the 1960s and 1970s and seeing someone who looks like you on TV.
That’s what Mister Rogers did for people.
The new movie about Fred Rogers will be a hit because we’re starved to death for the kind of civility he offered.
We’re dying from anxiety and despair because there is a dearth of empathy and basic kindness.
We have more ways to communicate than any generation in history, yet our souls have atrophied from loneliness and isolation. It has become easier to stare down at our phones than to acknowledge another’s presence.
In 2019, Mister Rogers would be scolded for being too liberal and for not being inclusive enough.
He would be upbraided for not having a female co-host, and if he did have one, for kowtowing to the PC police.
The only reason he addressed the question “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” to kids is because he knew they hadn’t been jaded by the fear of others who were different.
In his gentle way, he also was asking us adults to turn away from how negatively we regard one another.
We do it because its easier to categorize and dismiss a person than interact with them.
We do it because we’re certain of our own righteousness.
We do it because we’re afraid.
Fred Rogers wanted us to live up to who and what we actually are: neighbors, sharing a common journey; people who have the exact hopes, doubts and dreams; fellow travelers with much more in common than we dare to imagine.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP