We are never a mistake. Do you believe this? God created us each to be precious individuals and we each have a reason for being placed on this earth. Mister Rogers made it his life’s mission to address the issues facing kids on a daily basis and the whole time I watched it as a kid, I had no idea. I learned “Be kind” and “I am special”, and I especially learned that I adored Mister Rogers, but until I watched “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” last night, I had no clue of his mission in life: to make a community.
Fred Rogers understood the importance of “community” before the term was even popular. In fact, he tried at one point to branch off into TV for adults and it failed. He had so invested in his branding for the care of children that society was unable to support him elsewhere.
Joanne Rogers, his widow, shares that Fred closely identified with Daniel the Tiger. They shared their worries, concerns and difficulties with growing up. In the clip below, Daniel wonders if he is a big mistake. After all, no other tigers look like he. And although Lady Aberlin assures him that he is not, and even sings him a song about how special he is, Daniel joins in the song with his own verbiage about his worries as they sing in tandem. Mrs. Rogers later tells us that as Fred’s confidence grew, he became more “King Friday” who confidently led his Kingdom, but still owned up to his mistakes as a humble servant of the Neighborhood community.
I won’t spoil the movie for you but there are many things to learn. For instance, did you know that the address of the Make Believe Neighborhood, “143”, has important significance? How about the fact that Mister Rogers was an ordained minister? Yes, he considered the show his ministry to children. Did you know that he addressed difficult issues, such as divorce, grief and bullying? They even brought him back to do a brief after 9/11. Although the man had no official training in psychology or counseling (his degree was in music composition), we turned to him in times of difficulty and relied on him to help our children through. His care was deep and truly at the heart of his self-branding.
In our small theater of about 30 people, I counted four ladies crying on the way out and two additional in the ladies room afterward. I watch very few documentaries. But this one is inspiring and worth your time.
Check out Master the Mad you Feel here. It’s a good jazzy reminder of how we can control our feelings.
And, Daniel’s and Lady Aberlin’s “You Are Not a Mistake” below.