i loved fred rogers. when i was a kid i used to rush home after school to watch him and if i hurried and got the timing just right i could catch he light at the corner and beat the schoolbusses onto the street. if it sounds to you like i was driving, that's because i was. i was never interested in mr. rogers when i belonged to the target audience, but i loved him at seventeen.
why? because everything else on television in the afternoons was at the very least fun at somone else's expense, and there was fred, promoting kindness and decency.
i'll tell you something: i was at home sick the day anwar sadat was assassinated. they got the footage of the assassination in and put it right on the air, without editing it. there was blood spurting from arteries, body parts strewn about. the carnage was filmed up close. in all the subsequent airings, the worst of it was cut out, but it was still pretty horrific.
because i was sick, i felt too bad to change the channel. i was already dizzy and nauseated. and when the wave passed and i could get up, channel after channel (pre-remote) featured violence of some kind.
except for fred.
i was so happy to see him that i cried.
and a long time ago i was at a high school soccer game and a young woman on my team scored an own goal. a thing like that would have killed me, but she kept her head and kept going, scoring two goals to answer, thereby becoming the MVP for both sides. i think of her sometimes, when i've made a mistake and i have to make it better and continue on. she was to me the very picture of composure under such a situation.
and there's this kid i know who is aggressive and loud in his response to stupid stinking racism wherever he finds it. i think he actually goes out of his way to find it sometimes. he is a young man of courage and determination. i hope to be like him in that regard. he is going to stand tall and cast a long shadow.