I noticed yesterday, as the news was unfolding in Boston, that Mr. Rogers' comforting face and words kept popping up in my social media feeds. Like Newtown, just four months and a day before, we sought comfort in one of our most comfortable of childhood icons -- Fred Rogers.
Why is that, I wondered. What is it about Mr. Rogers that we gravitate to in these darkest moments of communal distress, confusion, and fear? On the surface, he is a kind and trusted figure that we recognize with words of great comfort attributed to him. On a deeper level, I wonder if we all seek an older, wiser figure to answer the unanswerable, help us feel protected when we know we are unsafe, provide us with clear, direct instruction ("Look for the helpers . . .") in the midst of chaos. Hmmmmm . . . that sounds a wee bit like someone else, doesn't it?
Has Mr. Rogers become the God that is universal and safe? Athiests as well as Jews as well as Christians as well as Muslims can find solace in his presence. Who knows? That sounds like an angsty dissertation premise for someone far younger than myself. Whatever the appeal, whatever the phenomenon, I like it. Mr. Rogers is cool and he always makes me feel better.
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Filed under: Parenting