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By Kevin Wells, Crisis Magazine, November 29, 2019
This past weekend, my 11-year-old daughter and I went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood at the local theater. The movie, based on Mr. Rogers’s interaction and friendship with a hardscrabble magazine reporter, is a moving portrayal of the manner in which one’s tender love and care is able to transform a suffering soul.
A selfish act by the reporter’s father had left deep wounds—cynicism, anger—in his son. As the plot line develops, the troubled man sees in Mr. Rogers an authentic form of what was missing in his own life: proper fatherhood. Layers of the wounds inflicted by the reporter’s father are peeled back, and exposed is his own power to forgive.
“Love is at the root of everything,” Fred Rogers once said. “The greatest thing we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”
As I sat next to my still-innocent daughter (she believes in Santa Claus, wants to marry Charles Ingalls from Little House, and demands that I pray each night at her bedside), I considered that tragic winter night from long ago. Mr. Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, seemed remarkably untethered to anyone or anything outside of his Christ-appointed mission to help children see their own unique dignity and value. He knew of life’s monsters; his mission was to ennoble children before the monsters could strike. …