Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Is An Excellent Look Inside
I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about Mr. Rogers in the theatre. Part of it centered on Mr. Rogers’ struggle to love himself as an odd fit in the world, but mostly it was about his mission to teach children that every one of them deserves love and dignity.
In it, they discuss that Daniel the Tiger was the voice of Rogers’ inner child. They played a clip where his self-doubt comes out, and despite Lady Aberlin’s best efforts to assure Daniel he isn’t a mistake, he repeats the bad thinking. It resonated with me. Self-doubt is something that I’ve always struggled with. Then I looked to my right. Two women and a man were in their 60s were crying. To my right, two 20-somethings were wiping tears.
It is easy to say that the world needs another Mr. Rogers, but I think that lets us all off the hook. Every person needs and wants to hear what Rogers had to say, and we are all able to do it. His message was best encapsulated in his 2002 Dartmouth commencement address:
“There’s a neighborhood song that is meant for the child in each of us, and I’d like to give you the words of that song right now. “It’s you I like, it’s not the things you wear. It’s not the way you do your hair, but it’s you I like. The way you are right now, the way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you. Not your caps and gowns, they’re just beside you. But it’s you I like. Every part of you. Your skin, your eyes, your feelings. Whether old or new, I hope that you remember, even when you’re feeling blue, that it’s you I like. It’s you, yourself, it’s you. It’s you I like.”
And what that ultimately means, of course, is that you don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you. 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.”