When Mister Rogers was removed from the daily feeds of our local PBS station and replaced with drivel, I was upset. My four year old was just as upset, but kept watching repeats of the few episodes we had saved on tape. While I have been trying to collect other "Mister Rogers" episodes since that time, they were hard to come by and resulted in attempts by me to "ration" new episodes. When I discovered seven volumes of Mister Rogers at Amazon on demand, I was thrilled. The smile on my daughter's face when she saw the first episode was priceless.
The children of today's society desperately need a quiet, gentle, and calming figure in their crazy lives: Mister Rogers is one of the few TV personalities capable of filling that role. In a world of television programs that are over-stimulating and age inappropriate, Mister Rogers was and continues to be an oasis. He teaches quietly, gently, and with a unique perspective on childhood fears and emotions. He does not just talk to children, he communicates with them. I have seen countless children, verbally respond to him when he asks a question to his "television neighbor." I am so glad that Amazon is making Mr. Rogers' unique perspective more readily available to a new generation of children.
If you think Mister Rogers only had the capacity to profoundly affect children, you have either never watched his show or seen him speak outside of the Neighborhood. In 1969, Mr. Rogers was responsible for Congress increasing the federal government's appropriations for PBS from $9 to 21 million. In about six minutes of senate testimony (available on YouTube), Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television like his show provided. The initially impatient chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, who was not previously familiar with Rogers' work, visibly changed while listening to Rogers and later reported that Rogers' testimony had given him goose-bumps. At the end of Roger's testimony, Pastore declared, "I think it's wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million." Today's children programming does not contain a single program that I am aware of that could give anyone goose-bumps, much less a sitting US senator.
When I watch Mister Rogers with my daughter, I often get goose-bumps as his patience and kindness reminds me of the type of parent I want to be.