Some of us grew up very lucky children. We got to turn on our televisions in the morning to see Fred Rogers with his sweaters and his sneakers. His reassuring smile and his gentle, calm nature was enough to transport most of us to a world of make believe. He made children as if our imaginations would make our worlds come alive.
It was a magical feeling, and its one that I find myself experiencing again, as i transport myself back in time to my childhood. As a child, anything was possible. However, we grew up and learned different lessons that seemed incongruent with what we learned from Mr. Rogers. Our generation was taught that race, religion, sex, or creed shouldn’t matter. That we should be more understanding and learn how to treat people in order to create a better world.
Growing up just enforced our differences and it seemed by the time we were able to look up from it all, we had already chosen different sides. The magic was now lost. “We” turned into “me”, introducing the rat race that has become and essentially defined our humanity.
That old make-believe world of castles, dragons, and princesses in need of help was for the gullible, the simple, and the insane. We put those people away for the supposed good of the rest of us. Instead of taking the lessons from Fred Rogers and his puppets, building and growing a sense of community and caring about the people around us, we simply pushed that aside. He taught us about the sense of community and that the neighborhood you grew up in was not a place to be afraid of, but a place where people who help other people.
It begs the question, do we hate our neighbors, or do we hate ourselves?
Then you grow up and watch the news. You learn that the world can be a scary place. You also learn that people live in very different worlds, and that it is harder for some to accept that our worlds don’t always look the same. I have to admit, that my neighborhood didn’t quite look like the neighborhoods that Mr. Rogers showed on television.