Loving and respecting little children

Fred Rogers has enormous love and respect for little children. He knows they delight in pure goodness. And that's exactly what they receive from him through his gentle, kindhearted children's television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The popular program has been airing on public television in the United States for over twenty-eight years. Recently, when Fred Rogers was asked in an interview to define "the essence of Mister Rogers," he replied: "Talking about how important the inside is in comparison to the outside. ... I am convinced that the space between the television set and the receiver—the person, particularly the person in need—is holy ground." The Boston Globe Magazine, August 25, 1996 .

"The inside," "the receiver—the person," "holy ground." These words caught my attention. I knew Fred Rogers certainly didn't mean that the TV set is God! I felt certain he was referring to how important it is for those on television to take the responsibility to provide wholesome programming for their viewers. I wanted to get a feel for what he was saying, so I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—something I hadn't done since our own children were small. As I, "the receiver," watched and listened to Mister Rogers talk directly to me (and every other viewer), and interact with each individual who came to visit him on the show, I felt clean and pure and happy inside. I felt recognized, loved—like an OK individual with legitimate thoughts and feelings. I delighted in each character and in each simple discovery we were making together. It felt like holy ground. And it was. It was an atmosphere of thought filled with goodness, wholly free of anything cruel, mean-spirited, or evil.

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November 11, 1996

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