As Mr. Rogers hits the big screen with the ever-brilliant Tom Hanks as his representative, I thought I’d review a book I read this year – The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers.⠀
Good Neighbor was an in-depth look into Fred Rogers’ life and built a solid foundation as to why Mr. Rogers became the man we knew and loved. It explains his background in detail, giving evidence as to his fastidious nature behind the scenes of his public television show. I have admittedly often written Mr. Rogers off as too saccharine or shallow when indeed Rogers was punctilious with the information he so gently passed on to the children of America, checking and double-checking its accuracy and impact. “He was fearless enough to be kind.” This sentence made me stop and think a moment. In today’s societal climate, who is being brave and fearless enough to be gracious? Fred Rogers was no pushover and he expected excellence, but he was above all else, kind-hearted.⠀
It was nearly impossible to divorce the juxtaposing thoughts about his work in the 70’s and 80’s with life in 2019. I remember when my son was young there was controversy over Sesame Street’s constant movement and changing from subject to subject on a dime vs the slow and purposeful movements of Mr. Rogers. ‘He worried about the lack of silence in a noisy world.’ I immediately imagined the tv screen of any news program on today, streaming news at the bottom of the screen, multiple boxes of people and layers of information – all in a simultaneous brawl for our attention.⠀
I certainly recommend this book however, I will warn you that it’s thorough about Fred’s history. At times I wondered if it was all necessary but found it was eventually helpful in viewing his depth of commitment and his passion for each child’s healthy development.⠀
We could all use a slow-moving neighbor with a sweater and tennis shoes who asks inquisitive questions about our life and sincerely tries to learn more about the things that affect our everyday existence. We could use one and we can BE one. This book motivates me to try harder to delve deeper into the lives of those in my own community.