Dear Mister Rogers:
There are very few television shows that stick out in my mind from my childhood.Growing up with the type of parents that I had, and a Latino home, meant that I really wasn’t able to watch the type of television or the hours of television that other children were allowed to. So the few shows that I did watch, we’re very important to me.
Often, I was competing with my father and his need to watch 10 hours of news programs every day. And when I say 10 hours, I am not exaggerating by much. Actually, he would watch at least for five hours a day of different news programs.
I didn’t grow up in the type of environment where we discussed feelings. Emotions were not something that I was allowed to have. I wasn’t allowed to express my emotions unless it had something to do with Jesus.
Growing up, Jesus was something that was drilled into my head and the expression of my emotions was not. And although yes, I had a special education teacher for a mother, self-expression was foreign to me.
That is, until I started watching Mr. Rogers neighborhood. I watched Mister Roger’s Neighborhood every day religiously. I had to watch it. The puppets and the videos and his soft voice soothed me.
I think the first time I heard anyone say “it’s okay to cry” was Mr. Rogers. And coming from the kind of upbringing I had, I often cried a lot. I was a sad child and Mister Rogers made me feel it was okay if I was sad. We need to hear that sometimes. We need to hear that it is okay to be sad when our life is shit. Too often we hear others telling us the opposite: that we should be happy no matter what. That we should just be positive. The problem is that often there are people who suffer from chronic mental illnesses, and take medication
It is easy, just take a pill and be happy. But for a person whose life has broken them, it isn’t as easy as taking a pill.
I’m not some ungrateful child with everything given to me.
I am a person who’s had a really shitty life. I am not saying the person who takes pills should not, or that person who is on a prescription medication for anxiety or depression should not. But for some of us, it isn’t that simple. Sometimes, it isn’t about a mood disorder. It is about people who should have loved us in a healthy positive way and never did.
But I think this is the problem with society today: but we have no compassion. We have compassion for the things that we understand or the things that we have struggled with never have compassion for things that we do not understand. This is a perfect event for you no longer have compassion for them.
And so people like Mister Rogers become heroes. People like him become heroes because of their ability to have compassion for others and to be able to understand other people even though they have not walked in their shoes. People like Mr. Rogers become heroes because of their ability to understand that some people feel feelings more magnified than others.
We live in this world where everyone wants to put a Band-Aid on everything and everyone and put a quick fix on everything. Just take a pill, just do whatever you can to not feel. But no one seems to really want to deal with feelings and emotions. No one wants to actually deal with issues. Everyone wants to see him to sleep everything under the rug and not dwell on real issues and this is why there is so much violence in the world and this is why there so many unhappy people in the world.
What makes Fred Rogers the hero that he is and that he was, is that he defied them. I will feel all my feelings. I will cry when I have to. I will be the person that I am and it is all because of Mr. Fred Rogers.