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As much as anything, this hectic, strife-torn and media driven world could benefit from more of the soothing calmness Fred Rogers exemplified during his half century on television.
Mr. Rogers died February 27 at the age of 74.
Rogers said he chose to go in front of the camera during the early days of television after observing popular personalities throwing pies in each other’s faces in the name of entertainment. The powerful new medium, he reasoned, should be used for more noble purposes. He was right!
Unfortunately, the pies of yesteryear have become the non-stop verbal barbs of today’s in-your-face talk shows. So-called reality programming hypes conflict and glories in unreal coarseness. Even many of today’s children’s shows have become increasingly violent.
Beyond the media, rude confrontation is pervasive. "Rage" is a word commonly used to describe altercations on highways and elsewhere. Civility, too often, is supplanted by rancor and acrimony. But for three-decades and more, the quiet reassuring voice of Mr. Rogers could be heard above the din of it all.
His gracious devotion to children survived the ridicule of many. He left a legacy of caring and an example of goodness. While he will be missed, there is hope the generations he influenced will remember his calming demeanor with the desire to emulate it in times of conflict.