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Garden of Your Mind

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Mr. Rogers. Simple, honest, genuine, friendly, humble. He had a way of making you think you were a very special kid, welcome in his home, where he just happened to invite you over, as though you were his neighbor's kid or his child or grandchild. He was one of my childhood heroes, especially as a little boy.

It was strange hearing news clips of him speaking to college graduates. He spoke to them as adults, but there was still that same gentle and genteel manner, a ton of compassion, as though each of them could be a friend, a neighbor, one of his family. It was strange because you don't hear that from other people, and you'd have expected his speaking persona would have been more different. Yet by all accounts, that WAS the real him.

Mr. Fred Rogers was a minister as well as one of the very first TV educators when PBS began showing children's educational TV. He was a pioneer. Anyone in my generation grew up as little kids seeing Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, the Electric Company, Zoom, and many others. He took his work as a mission, to make sure each kid felt special and loved and learned something about being a neighbor, a friend, and learning what was possible, ideas and doing.

I recall seeing something that he'd had a few people approach him as young adults, to thank him. They were gay or lesbian, and wanted to tell him his "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" had helped them. But they were sometimes concerned: Would Mr. Rogers accept them or turn away? Mr. Fred Rogers said it was OK. He loved them just the same.

It didn't matter if you were a handicapped kid, a black or white kid or some other color or place of origin. It didn't matter if you were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist...any of the others. Short or tall, skinny or fat. Smart or not so smart. What mattered to him was that you were special, unique, for being you, and you had something to contribute and people who loved and liked you.

Now, not everyone needs to go around with Mr. Rogers' very quiet persona, which I think he worked at on purpose.

But his acceptance and joy in others' differences, and his eagerness to see others learning and doing great things or little things -- that, we could use much more of.

What a truly fine man.

And yeah, that remix, by Symphony of Sciene, is pretty awesome. There's also one for Dr. Carl Sagan, also awesome.

All those bullies and gossips and all those people spewing hate from lecture podiums and pulpits -- ought to have to watch Mr. Rogers' entire series and Dr. Sagan's Cosmos series. If they did, perhaps their minds and hearts might unshrivel a bit. Hmm, speaking of that, let's add Dr. Seuss and Charles Schulz' Peanuts. Made of awesome.

Mr. Rogers, rockin' the neighborhood. Heheh, geek pride, baby.

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