People have said, “Don’t cry” to other people for years and years,and all it has ever meant is, “I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.” I’d rather have them say, “Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.”
- Mr. Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers
As a child, I wanted Mister Rogers to visit the Neighborhood of Makebelieve, and wondered why he never got to. When I got older, I thought it was because it was important to show that reality and pretend are different. Now I realise it was probably because he does the voices for most of the puppets.
Once in a while, a publication asks who the greatest American of our lifetime is. And while Cracked would never presume to answer that question, we absolutely can. Is it Zombie Teddy Roosevelt? The puppeteer who made Ronald Reagan come alive? Former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson?
Strong contenders, all, but no. Sit down, neighbor, and hear of a man who did not conquer the world, but did it one better; he reminded us that the world needs unity rather than conquest. He walked among us as a man, although he was a hand-to-God saint. They say the difference between a saint and a psychopath is empathy, and Mr. Fred Rogers had an ocean of it, which makes him either the sanest man in history or the craziest hero we ever had.
If you’re from some country that doesn’t have puppets and never heard of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, it’s OK! He loves you anyway. In fact, he’d want to introduce you to all of us so we could learn from you.
At my signal, take off those ironic smirks and don your extra-strength smiles, because your faith in human beings is about to get an upgrade.