Won’t you be my neighbor…and lessons learned from Mr. Rogers


A friend and fellow blogger exposed her feelings on starting school and being a parent…check her out Spirit of Intention After reading her blog, she stirred such emotion from within me. It reminded me of my own parenting. My frustrations of what was expected of me via society. I am a…idealist, I guess. At least that is what I have been called. That and a bleeding heart liberal, and believe me I am not going to get all political here, that is totally not my thing. My thing is believing in each other, in my children. Believing that as a society if we could just talk, listen and hear what we are saying to each other solutions could be found. If you choose to label that a bleeding heart liberal, that your prerogative.

My heart and soul are often so distraught and confused at the complexity of this concept. I think…why is it so hard, to listen to each other? Granted I will stand strong for what I believe in, however I am not opposed to compromise. I believe none of us are aware of all the answers, that is what we have each other for. We are here to learn from each other. And…for the most part, I think many of us, many societies,do this. But we also all too often let fear (in the disguise as insecurities, judgement) cloud our ability to accept one another.

I chuckle to myself when I hear myself try and talk about my views…my inner brain says ok…here we go with the hippie talk. My heart and spirit rebut by pointing out the fear in that simple statement alone. I have not been able to shed my own coat of self judgement. I remind myself that there is no need for labels. The thing is, we are taught our boundaries at an early age. We were taught the fear our parents carried, we were taught the injustices that our families went through. All these are real however; they are not necessarily ours.

As a product of the late sixties I grew up with the emergence of women’s lib, strength and independence. TV had also really just become mainstream. Because of this many were able to be exposed to a variety of lifestyles and people each and every day,without ever having to leave our homes.

There were many characters to connect to, for me…one of the biggest mentors in my life was a good friend, a strong, reliable kind friend, his name was Mr. Rogers. To this day I appreciate this man, who stressed to me the importance of being a good neighbor. To accept and learn from the differences we all bring to each other as well as to a community. My work, my family, my core beliefs are based on those very special lessons I learned each afternoon with this gentle soul. He encouraged me to question things. He made me feel special. Through him I believed in magic. He encouraged me to use my imagination. Mr. McPhealy taught me efficiency and the importance of getting a job done. His kind voice and welcomed smile allowed me the ability to see the world through his amazing perspective.

Mr. Rogers taught me the gift of fairness, patience and kindness. I will always hold a smile in my heart for this kind man. All that being said, what I knew, the man I trusted and grew to love was a TV personality. He wasn’t real. He wasn’t my friend. He did not know me. But, for some reason, none of that matters. The impact he had on me opened me up to see the good in people. I trusted him. He was there for me each day. He was a grown up, that got down to my level, without talking down to me. He slowed me down. I anxiously waited for him, and the world he would open up for me, while he switched into his sneakers and put on his sweater. I looked forward to learning how something was made, and taking the train to the land of make believe.

I know I am not the only soul that has been blessed to have their heart and mind opened up by this man. One man who helped shape many lives.

What we need to do is carry on the legacy and remember one person is all it takes to start change.
Maybe we should all go back to that time when we were open minded, accepting, and eager to learn. I know I was much more accepting of not only others, but of myself. It’s what Mr. Rogers taught me, To accept my neighbors for who they are and all their differences. While doing this I learned at an early age that it was ok to be me, just the way I was. I think it’s time I got that feeling back, what do you think?


6 thoughts on “Won’t you be my neighbor…and lessons learned from Mr. Rogers

  1. What a wonderful post. I too have always felt a special bond with Mr. Rogers. Have you read I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Mr. Rogers by Tim Madigan? It’s about his own personal friendship with Fred Rogers and It’s amazing. Such a personal look into such a wonderful individual. It made me love Mr. Rogers even more. It jumped off the bookshelf at me at the library…an excellent read! I hope you are doing well right now, during this transitional back to school time, my friend!

    • It is good to hear from you. It is a very transitional time, and as with transitions there is always a struggle. My youngest started college….crazy! I will look into that book. It would be nice to know he was a good man off camera as well. It’s funny either people like him, or they don’t. Not too many in the middle.

      I hope all is well with you!

      • college…wow. Mine are going into middle and high schools – so big transition here for both. But they’ve both got this…I’ve got this attitude. 🙂
        Yea, when I found that book I had this pang of – what if this ruins my image of Mr. Rogers?? But it only made it better. The man behind the persona IS Mr. Rogers…and more. A human insight. Read it! and have a great day – xo

  2. Communication was not encouraged in my mother’s house. Consequently, television was the only source of worldly education and information I had growing up. It influenced me in profound ways showing me perspectives I would never have gotten otherwise. TV taught me the power of words and how they can be used to make a difference. Unfortunately, most people use words to hurt or get what they want never thinking about the impact of their words on other people, and the only time we say hello to our neighbor is when we need him to check our mail when we are out of town. Maybe if we thought about just how powerful words are and the most empowering ways to use them, we would learn to speak less, listen more, and only offer our highest insights as a way of positively influencing the world around us because you just never know who is listening.

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