On my flight from California to NY, I watched ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?‘ — a life of the timeless Mr. (Fred) Rogers — and I am speechless.
Let’s make the most of this beautiful day!
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor– would you be mine? could you be mine?”
“It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood, a neighborly day for a beauty– would you be mine? Could you be mine?”
“I have always wanted to have a neighbor, just like you! I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood, with you! so let’s make the most of this beautiful day, when we’re together we might as well say — ‘Would you be mine, could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, won’t you please– please won’t you be — my neighbor?”
Media can be used to empower
One of my main jobs is to help through the mass media for children, to help children through some of the difficult modulations of life. Because it is easy to go from ‘C’ to ‘F’. But there are some modulations which aren’t so easy, to go from ‘F’ to ‘F-Sharp’ — you’ve got to weave through all sorts of things. If you have someone to help you [they can help you through these modulations in life].
Media is a tool that can empower.
“This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.’ And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.” – Testimony before U.S. Senate committee, May 1, 1969. Featured in Fred Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor (television documentary), 2003.
TV, media, phones, etc are just tools. We have the power to use this tool either for good or bad.
For example, fire is good when we use it to cook food, and warm us. Fire is bad when we use it in war and death/destruction.
With a hammer you can build a house, or kill someone.
With a phone, you can call a loved one and tell them that you love them, or you can use it to spread hate and malice.
I always thought TV was an inherent ‘evil’, but I’m starting to recognize– what matters more is how one uses TV.
Mr. Rogers decided to use TV for good, with his show, ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood‘
Necessity is the mother of invention
When Mr. Rogers started child television, he started to use puppets because of the necessity — because sometimes the film (on live television) would break, and Mr. Rogers had to fill in the blank space with improvisation.
So what did Mr. Rogers do? He took an old tiger sock puppet, and improvised on the spot– to entertain the kids:
Lesson: Having low-budgets, fewer resources– can actually lead to innovation! So if you’re lacking access, resources, etc– use that to your benefit to invent something new!
143 (I LOVE YOU)
One of Mr. Rogers’ mottos was:
“I LOVE YOU”:
- 1: I (1 letter)
- 4: LOVE (4 letters)
- 3: YOU (3 letters)
Miraculously, Mr. Roger’s weight as consistently 143 his whole life (blown mind).
The use of puppets
ROGERS: I didn’t imagine them. I had puppets, and so I would play with the puppets. And I can’t remember their exact forms, but I knew that they were important to me. I think that all of the puppets in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe are facets of who I am. – NPR
A fascinating thing was Mr. Rogers used puppets to manifest different parts of his personality:
- Daniel (tiger sock puppet): to symbolize his inner-child
- ‘King Friday the 13th’ (the king puppet, who often symbolized tyranny and power): to express his anger
Perhaps we can take on alter-egos (puppet as a symbol), to express more of our soul?
Take 1 minute to reflect on those who have had a meaningful impact in your life
From the time you were very little, you had people who had smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving.
A practice Mr. Rogers did was to have his friends and family (and others) spend 1 minute to think of someone who made an impact in your life:
“Think of someone who has helped you along the way for 1 minute. Im going to time you.”
He then says:
Some might be here, some might be faraway, some might be in heaven. Deep down you know they’ve always wanted what is best for you. they always cared about you beyond measure, and have encouraged you to be true to the best within you.
It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive, it’s such a happy feeling you’re growing inside and when you wake up — ready to say, ‘I think ill make a snappy new day.’ It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling, the feeling you know that we’ve friends.”
You don’t gotta be anybody else
“You help to make each day a special day, by just you’re being yourself. There is nobody else in the whole world who is exactly like you! And people can like you exactly as you are. You are special.”
This is probably the best documentary I’ve watched in my life. I literally cried 5 times on the plane.