Film set to honor the best neighbor

Published on Friday, 4 October 2013 21:42 - Written by By Rebecca Hoeffner

News broke on entertainment websites last week that a movie based on popular TV personality Fred Rogers is in the works.

This is the perfect excuse to remember what he taught us, because Mr. Rodgers was fantastic. I know my parents and many others were grateful that he was on television on PBS.

Even members of congress were grateful. In 1969, Mr. Rogers testified at a congressional hearing about the importance of educational shows like his when Congress was considering cutting funding to public broadcasting.

After Mr. Rogers described his program, and how it teaches children that they are unique and how they can learn skills like control and anger management, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, John Pastore, said, “I think that’s wonderful.”

According to the Fred Rogers Center, Mr. Rogers “had a major effect on securing the funding for the growth of public television.”

Mr. Rodgers was a Presbyterian minister, but his show was never religious. It didn’t need to be. The values he taught were universal.

He taught acceptance and the value in each person. He often said on his TV show to the children who were watching, “I like you just the way you are.”

He taught unity.

“How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us,” he said.

He taught the importance of gratitude. When he received his Emmy for lifetime achievement in 1997, Mr. Rogers said “So many people have helped me to come to this night … All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time.”

And tears filled the eyes of celebrities all over the room as Mr. Rogers reminded them how loved they have been.

The movie will be based on a book titled “I’m Proud of You,” written by a reporter who developed a friendship with Rogers after interviewing him for a newspaper story. They stayed in touch over the years and shared “unconditional regard” for one another.

It was a friendship based on Rogers’ life philosophy.

“We’re all on a journey, each one of us,” Mr. Rogers said in his lifetime achievement interview. “If we can be sensitive to the person who happens to be our neighbor, that to me is the greatest challenge as well as the greatest pleasure. Because if you’re trusted and people allow you to share their inner garden with them, what greater gift?”