Mr. Rogers is dead.
It’s strange how that phrase resonates, like it’s some kind of portent, a change in the world like Rome’s fall. I think this is Fred Rogers’ real legacy – the fact that he meant something to a couple generations of kids, represented an image of stability and constancy and affirmation. Even snarky hipsters who made nasty jokes and laughed at him for years, trying to establish their irony pedigree, are rattled.
Mr. Rogers was solid. You could love him, mock him, or ignore him, but he was there and what he said and did never changed – he said, “You’re special.”
I think a lot of us are uncomfortable accepting that statement at face value. It’s frightening. It’s easier to laugh and make a Cool As Ice reference, or mutter something about singing Kumbayah. Maybe it was scary because it’s what we really, really wanted to hear.
G’bye, Fred. We miss you.
Don’t forget to change into your sneakers.
“Of course, I get angry. Of course, I get sad. I have a full range of emotions. I also have a whole smorgasbord of ways of dealing with my feelings. That is what we should give children. Give them … ways to express their rage without hurting themselves or somebody else. That’s what the world needs.” Fred Rogers