“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” –Fred Rogers
I thought about titling this blog post, “Because you Watched,” a common phrase on Netflix that leads viewers to movies and series that are similar to what they’ve watched before and presumably something they’d enjoy.
Because you follow this blog and presumably resonate to my abiding belief in the importance of love, freely and unconditionally given, I want to recommend the movie I saw over the weekend. It’s called “Won’t you be my Neighbor” and it’s about Fred Rogers and his deceptively simple show that championed goodness, human dignity and kindness to all.
Using songs, puppets and neighborhood guests, Mr. Rogers and his iconic neighborhood attempted to value children and their feelings and to calm the waters in the wake of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Challenger disaster and even 9/11.
The suspense of the movie, rather than relying on negative twists and battles to overcome, turns around this question: “What nice thing will this uncommonly kind man do next?”
His quiet valorization of kindness and gentleness feels wildly countercultural.
Even when he was attacked by right-wing commentators who derided his belief in the “specialness” of every child (after all, they said, it will turn children into entitled snowflakes), he choose kindness as does the filmmaker of this very special film.
Rather than depict his detractors with anger, the film notes their presence with a bemused sadness. Why be like this?
The film, like my blog, takes for granted that goodness, honoring our basic humanity and compassion are worthy goals. Rather than value shock and disruption, I stand for love, for all, forever.
As Mr. Rogers said during his testimony to Congress on the importance of public television, he summed up his mission like this, “Let’s make goodness attractive.”
That certainly works for me.
Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.