We were going in the same direction, but only because we were on the same plane.
The young man next to me on a flight to Charleston, S. C. tuned into a Steven Spielberg movie. I tuned in to the 90 minute Mr. Rodgers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
It was a juxtaposition of the greatest kind—a movie with black and white film clips of a gentle, humble, simple, but perceptive advocate for children next to a screen of gruesome characters vomiting fire, fury and death, as fast as Mr. Rogers does slow.
In all fairness, I didn’t watch the movie playing next to me. I can’t even remember the title. I shouldn’t judge a movie by two or three screen shots, just as I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Perhaps there was something redeeming emerging from the reprehensible inhumanity cloaked in death and destruction beside me. (And I say that seriously. I just couldn’t watch long enough to find out.)
And just as I glanced to the screen of yet another bloody image of heinous torture, I hear Mr. Rogers in my headphones: “I just don’t think this is the way to treat anyone.”
I thought of all the kids that see images like that day in and day out.
I couldn’t help but wonder: What do these images give root to? How do they play out in a child’s daily living? (How do they play out in ours, for that matter?) What will grow in time?
It’s hard to prove whether Mr. Rogers changed culture in the 25 years on National Public Television. Frankly, it seems like it didn’t do a thing. The documentary admits to this uncertainty. However, it does give testimony to those preschoolers whose lives were affected as they tuned in.
For many it was an oasis in a sometimes stormy home, a call back to what’s important, or a quiet reprieve from the hustle of the day.
Everyone felt better, held onto hope longer, and grew a little stronger after watching Mr. Rogers. Me included.
A daily 30 minute show over the course of several years really can’t make a difference, or can it?
My son, who watched Mr. Rogers with me during his toddler years, sent me an email a while back. (One of those you print off and keep. :)) Now he has children of his own. It reads: “Thanks for having an eagle’s eye over the content we saw . . . I wanted to quote so much of this quick video but I figured I’d share the whole thing . . . ”
(You may have seen this seven minute video of Mr. Rogers testifying before the Senate in defense of federal funding public broadcasting. Millions of people have. This humble advocate for children moved a mountain.)
Keep watering your shoot.
It’s true—we reap what we sow. Sow as best you can. Sow what you want to grow. And along with a whole lot of grace we’ll glimpse the truth of the adage, “What goes in must come out.”
But it may take some time. No, it will take some time. Maybe a very long time.
Thank you, Mr. Rogers.
And thanks to the authors that give us stories that help us plant, water and grow beauty into the lives of our children and grandchildren.
Here’s a fun read for you and your little shoot and one I’m sure Mr. Rogers would love.
You’ll laugh together with this one. You’ll maybe even see yourself on the pages!
A good reminder for those of us that will have new neighbors moving in this summer!
(More about this book on my next Perfect Picture Book Friday post.)
And here’s one just for you. You’ll be sure to grow.
It seems to me, though, that our world needs more time to wonder and to reflect about what is inside, and if we take time we can often go much deeper as far as our spiritual life is concerned than we can if there’s constant distraction . . . to take time to explore the deepr levels of who we are—and who we can become. Mr. Rogers
And now . . .