It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine? It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood, a neighborly day for a beauty, would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted to have a neighbor–just like you! I have always wanted to live in a neighborhood–with you! So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day, since we’re together we might as well say, won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you, please? Won’t you, please? Please won’t you be–my neighbor!
On this beautiful winter day, the sun is shining bright. As I was thinking of what a beautiful day it was, this song came to mind.
Of course, how can one even think of this song without remembering Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (or as my brother called it “Mr. Neighbor Rogershood”)? You can’t remember this show without remembering Fred Rogers and his cardigan sweaters and sneakers (an interesting factoid for you…did you know that one of Mr. Rogers’ cardigans is hanging in the Smithsonian?)? Let’s face it, if Stacy London and Clinton Kelly got ahold of Mr. Rogers, he would probably have ended up on the Celebrity Edition of What Not to Wear.
Though he would never be considered political or “pop culture”, Fred Rogers influenced A LOT of people through his humble children’s television show. For instance, Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood is PBS’ second longest running syndicate (2nd only to Sesame Street). His show has spanned generations and cultural barriers. Through gentleness and simplicity, Mr. Rogers’ spoke directly to the camera, making us all believe we were his neighbor in this wonderful little neighborhood that had friends like Mr. McFeely, Lady Aberlin, Neighbor Aber and Handyman Negri. He addressed tough issues like death, bullying, and divorce. He even came out of retirement to address 9/11 in a way that children could relate.
Why am I waxing poetic about Fred Rogers on this very cold January morning? Because I want to be a Fred Rogers. I want to influence people with gentleness and simplicity not with a political agenda or pop cultural gimmicks. I want to worry less about what I wear and more about what people are struggling with. I want to be a person who looks others directly in the eye and sees them as neighbors. I want to address the tough issues with a child-like faith. I want to share that faith with all that I see.
Most of all, I want to do all of this being true to myself. You see, the most impressive thing about Fred Rogers is that he never changed. He always wore cardigans and sneakers. He didn’t change his look to attract more viewers. He didn’t compromise his simplicity to impress others. He didn’t avoid offending others by avoiding hard issues. He just did what he knew how to do and he did it well.
I hope Fred Rogers is in heaven. I’d like to thank him, someday, for being a great neighbor!