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Quiz about Fred Rogers  A Life of Tikkun Olam
Quiz about Fred Rogers  A Life of Tikkun Olam

Fred Rogers -- A Life of Tikkun Olam Quiz


Fred Rogers lived a life that exemplified "tikkun olam" -- the belief that we are all called to heal the world through acts of kindness, charity, love and righteousness. Let's see some of the ways this informed Rogers' life both on TV and in real life.

A multiple-choice quiz by MrNobody97. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
MrNobody97
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
406,613
Updated
Dec 23 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
496
Awards
Editor's Choice
Last 3 plays: Guest 173 (1/10), Guest 98 (9/10), suomy (7/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. In the United States, the first episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" aired February 19, 1968. Not even four months later, on June 6, tragedy struck the country. The next day, Rogers recorded a special episode, aimed at parents, to help them talk to their children about what had happened. What very-difficult topic did Fred Rogers address? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. In May of 1969, Fred Rogers famously testified before Senator John Pastore to defend public-broadcast TV against proposed budget slashes. Rogers said that public television could help nurture children's mental health by telling them that their feelings were "mentionable and manageable." To help express this conviction, he recited the lyrics from one of the songs he sang on the "Neighborhood." Which song was it? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Fred used some "Neighborhood" episodes to help children know that it's okay to acknowledge "mad feelings" -- and deal with them in a way that doesn't harm anyone. He also said, "Some people wonder if Mister Rogers ever gets angry. Of course I do! Especially when I hear about people hurting other people." In a 1969 episode, when he greeted neighbor Francois Clemmons, Fred used their visit to subtly confront what real-life issue that he was angered by? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Every episode of "Mister Rogers" included a segment in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. In this imagined land, we see many different characters interact. The neighbors share disagreements, feelings, celebrations, unity -- and that they love and care about one another. Like the rest of the show, this puppet-filled land was part of Fred's subtle expression of his faith. What did he say inspired him to use the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to talk about God? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. At the time of Rogers' ordination, he had already been involved in TV for a few years, and the church gave him the unique charge to minister to children and families through this medium. For as many people as it reached, he still saw it as deeply personal. To that end, he committed himself to doing something that he considered an extension of his ministry. Some estimate he may have done this action 100,000 or more times in his life. What was it? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Some episodes feature a special visit to the "Neighborhood" from a real-life friend of Fred's. One of the show's most famous -- and deeply moving -- visitors was a ten-year-old named Jeff Erlanger, a quadriplegic. Rogers marveled at how easily his friend explained why he used a wheelchair. There were several things that made Jeff's visit so uniquely memorable. Which of these four facts is NOT true about the segment? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. To delve deeper into Fred Rogers and what he believed, we can take a glimpse at him as a child -- sickly, often physically isolated, and emotionally lonely. Bullied because of his weight. Later in life, he used his own memories to teach lessons he had learned about loving others (and himself). In Make-Believe, which puppet character did Fred use to reflect the difficulties he faced as a child? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Some people like to write off Fred Rogers and his show as basically just a bunch of nice-sounding messages that lack substance. But in truth, he was a man whose convictions, whose theology, ran deep, and he actively and publicly opposed wars, instead promoting nonviolence. During the Gulf War, he supported Senator John Heinz's effort to exempt which people from having to serve? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. After more than 900 episodes and 35 years, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" ended production in 2001. A few months later, that fateful day came that brought so much loss of life. Fred Rogers was persuaded to come out of retirement to record a few short messages. He offered some wisdom about how people could best respond, how to best support and love one another. Which of these was NOT one of the things he emphasized or advocated? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Fred Rogers passed away back in 2003, but many people all over the world have celebrated his life, his ministry. Numerous books have been written about him; two films, a documentary and a biographical drama, have been produced. And until her passing in early 2021, Fred's beloved wife of 50 years, Joanne Rogers, was a steward of his legacy and message. To all those who loved him, she did give one very-gentle exhortation. What was it? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In the United States, the first episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" aired February 19, 1968. Not even four months later, on June 6, tragedy struck the country. The next day, Rogers recorded a special episode, aimed at parents, to help them talk to their children about what had happened. What very-difficult topic did Fred Rogers address?

Answer: The murder of Robert Kennedy

The first broadcast of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in the United States, in February of 1968, came at a time when turmoil, violence and strife were already prevalent, and the country was reeling. The Vietnam War saw even more loss of life than before; on April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; and on June 6, Senator Robert Kennedy died, having being mortally wounded the day before.

Rogers worked tirelessly through the night to write the script for a special episode, which would be filmed and broadcasted the next day, June 7. In some ways, this particular program transcended the Kennedy assassination; as Rogers noted, "I've been terribly concerned about the graphic display of violence which the mass media has been showing recently. ... There is just so much that a very young child can take without it being overwhelming." One could hardly turn on the television without having to hear and see a torrent of awful descriptions and images, and Rogers wanted to point out that fact -- but also offer a way for families to cope.

Let's pause for a moment, long enough to clarify that while the concept of "tikkun olam" has its origins in Judaism, people of many other faiths have come to embrace it as well. And this is not irrelevant to Rogers' response to the death of Bobby Kennedy, because at its core, "tikkun olam" is anything we can do -- for others, for our community, even for ourselves -- that can bring solace, love, kindness, restoration or healing to a broken world.

To that end, then, here is an early example of "tikkun olam" in action for Fred Rogers. In the special episode, he made clear he wanted to be a guiding, helping voice. To parents, he said, just be yourself, without pretense; this will allow your children to feel willing to open up with you about their own feelings. This was fundamental: Children shouldn't be led to believe that sad things never happened; they needed their parents to tell them that they loved them and would protect them. In fact, if parents expressed their own feelings, it would let their sons and daughters know that it was okay to express.

The episode made some use of the "Neighborhood of Make-Believe." It's especially telling when Daniel Striped Tiger suddenly asks Lady Aberlin, "What does 'assassination' mean?" As they discuss it -- Daniel knows "that man killed that other man" -- the two agree that "too many people are talking about it." In the imagined segment, Rogers uses Daniel to say that tragic or upsetting news can be deeply troubling to children, and even their play can reflect things they've seen and heard.

Talking about the episode a few years later, Rogers explained, "The assassination special ... was a plea for families to include their children in their own ways of coping with grief. Children also feel and sense grief. I thought parents might be confused with what might be helpful for their kids."

Before concluding the episode, Fred reminded all who were watching that each family and each person is different, and they each have their own way of coping with tragedy -- that is, children (and adults) need to be allowed to deal with things however they choose. Before parting, he said, "I always say to the children, 'You've made this day a special by just your being you.' And you have. I care deeply about you and your families. I hope you know that."

As a side note, and to be clear, Rogers WAS also fervently anti-war throughout his life -- and he DID use a number of various episodes (mostly in Make-Believe segments) to address the issue of war. However, this particular 1968 special episode was most specifically about Robert Kennedy's assassination. Rogers was not being dismissive of King's murder (or of other violence and disasters); it was more like a turning-point when he finally decided that enough was enough and it was high time to point to a very-specific event and relate to parents how they could give comfort to children in such times of tragedy.

Quotes from the 1968 episode were printed in a 2018 article by the "Evansville Courier & Press". Rogers' explanatory remark is from a 1976 article in the "Palm Beach Post-Times".
2. In May of 1969, Fred Rogers famously testified before Senator John Pastore to defend public-broadcast TV against proposed budget slashes. Rogers said that public television could help nurture children's mental health by telling them that their feelings were "mentionable and manageable." To help express this conviction, he recited the lyrics from one of the songs he sang on the "Neighborhood." Which song was it?

Answer: "What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel?"

Video still exists of Fred Rogers' testimony before Senator Pastore, the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications. Though it's all of about six minutes, it's a heartfelt, poignant exchange. Rogers demonstrates the utmost respect to Pastore, and his gentle but impassioned words are deeply moving to the senator. The last thing Fred shares is the words to "What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel?" -- which, he also notes, took its name from a child's question to him. Before we go further, here are the lyrics...

"What do you do with the mad that you feel,/ When you feel so mad you could bite?/ When the whole wide world seems oh-so wrong/ And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?/ Do you pound some clay or some dough?/
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?/ Or see how fast you go?

It's great to be able to stop when you've planned a thing that's wrong,/
And be able to do something else instead and think this song:/

'I can stop when I want to/ Can stop when I wish./ I can stop, stop, stop any time./ And what a good feeling to feel like this/ And know that the feeling is really mine.'/ Know that there's something deep inside/ That helps us become what we can./ For a girl can be someday a woman,/ And a boy can be someday a man."

"I think it's wonderful," declared Sen. John Pastore to the humble man who had just spoken. And indeed it is wonderful -- and a powerful message. Many years later, in an interview with "Pittsburgh" magazine, Fred said he realized as a young man that this emerging medium of television was a tool that could be wielded for good and for healing -- or for evil and tearing down: "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible. And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

That reflection is very much like what Fred shared that one day in Washington, D.C. -- that he had seen how violent TV could be damaging to a young child's mental health, but that sincere and reaffirming messages could help a child grow into a healthy adult. In Fred's eyes, his role was to do anything he could to dispel darkness with light. And in all of this we see tikkun olam -- speaking respectfully to someone; having courage to stand firm for one's beliefs; responding to harmful messages (in this case, on TV) by countering them with words of love and truth.

Suffice it to say, Rogers' career / "on-screen" life and personal life were inextricably linked. Anything that he modeled on the "Neighborhood" was deeply and utterly aligned with his own real-life values and beliefs.
3. Fred used some "Neighborhood" episodes to help children know that it's okay to acknowledge "mad feelings" -- and deal with them in a way that doesn't harm anyone. He also said, "Some people wonder if Mister Rogers ever gets angry. Of course I do! Especially when I hear about people hurting other people." In a 1969 episode, when he greeted neighbor Francois Clemmons, Fred used their visit to subtly confront what real-life issue that he was angered by?

Answer: Racism

In a posthumous documentary, Clemmons and others recalled that Fred Rogers in real-life was very angry indeed about the rampant racism of the day -- despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, many people and institutions ignored it and continued to treat blacks in disrespectful, spiteful, cruel ways. But Rogers wanted to turn his anger into a meaningful message. So one day, when people tuned in, there was Rogers, out in the front yard of his "television home" on a hot summer afternoon. And after a couple moments, a visitor came by -- Officer Clemmons, a black police officer in the Neighborhood.

"Well, there's Officer Clemmons. Hi, Officer Clemmons, come in."
"Hello, Mr. Rogers. How are you?"
"Fine. Won't you sit down?"
"Oh, sure, just for a moment."

Rogers sat down on a chair by a small, plastic wading pool filled with cool water. He had taken off his shoes and socks. He explained, "It's so warm. I was just putting some water on my feet." Then he invited Clemmons: "Would you like to join me?"

"That looks awfully enjoyable, but I don't have a towel or anything," replied Clemmons.
"Well, you share mine," Fred offered.
"OK, sure," Clemmons agreed, and he took off his boots and socks and began to cool his feet right alongside Rogers.

And once the officer thanked Rogers and said he needed to return to his patrol, Rogers knelt down, took the towel and gently dried off Clemmons' feet. "Sometimes a minute like this will really make a difference," Rogers told his friend.

Clemmons, again in a retrospective interview, explained that Rogers' comment wasn't about just keeping cool in the summer heat: "He was making a very strong statement."

And indeed he was. The entire scene was very simple -- two men, one white, one black, just enjoying sitting side-by-side and sharing a pool -- seemed quiet and unassuming, but at that time, it was actually a radical thing to portray. Segregation was still strong. Also, Fred knew that the pool was a meaningful choice, because many people were actively finding ways to keep blacks out of "white" swimming pools.

"That is absolutely ridiculous," Fred had said (in real-life) when he first learned of it -- and so he used his show to cut to the heart of the matter, albeit in a calm, non-angry way. Those who have seen the episode note that Rogers never said a word about the fact that he and Clemmons were "different" in any way -- he simply treated him as equally lovingly as he did every other person.

In his book "The World According to Mister Rogers," Fred wrote: "The values we care about the deepest, and the movements within society that support those values, command our love. When those things that we care about so deeply become endangered, we become enraged. And what a healthy thing that is! Without it, we would never stand up and speak out for what we believe."

And in all of this, once again there's tikkun olam -- taking a stand against injustice. By treating Clemmons as an equal, Rogers shows that racism is forged from hatred and fear, but love defeats it. Fred understood it well, that tikkun olam is not passive -- but it can be any action of any "size" -- whether just a kind or comforting word, or being there for someone. But it can also be something bigger -- act of social action / advocacy -- and Fred Rogers was not about to simply pretend racism or discrimination didn't exist. He believed everyone should be treated with respect, with kindness, with equality, because in his Christian faith, he firmly believed all people were equally precious to God.

The transcript of the dialogue between Rogers and Clemmons was reprinted by NPR.
4. Every episode of "Mister Rogers" included a segment in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. In this imagined land, we see many different characters interact. The neighbors share disagreements, feelings, celebrations, unity -- and that they love and care about one another. Like the rest of the show, this puppet-filled land was part of Fred's subtle expression of his faith. What did he say inspired him to use the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to talk about God?

Answer: The parables of Jesus

This gets into a somewhat complex realm of discussion, but you can't really talk (in a meaningful way) about a man like Fred Rogers without including his faith. Shea Tuttle, the author of "Exactly As You Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers," cites a letter Rogers once wrote: "What a tough job to try to communicate the gift of Jesus Christ to anybody. It can't be simply talked about, can it? Jesus himself used parable -- so I guess that's our directive: Try to show the Kingdom of God through stories as much as possible."

Fred once remarked, "You don't need to speak overtly about religion in order to get a message across. In fact, there were years when I wouldn't tell people about my ordination because I didn't want anybody to think that I was using it in any way to further the program in the eyes of certain groups. And, I also didn't want some children to feel excluded." Here is an opportunity to think about why the show was named "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" -- and why he greeted us as "neighbor." We also notice these words in the opening song, "It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," and in "the Neighborhood of Make-Believe."

Consider this insight from Tuttle: "Fred notes in his letter, Jesus most often tried to explain God's Kingdom through parables, many of which begin, 'The kingdom of God is like...' Fred patterned his own storytelling after this example. The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, with its eclectic cast of puppets and people, was the perfect place for Fred to stage his own parables ... of the Kingdom of God. It's almost as if he began [by] saying, 'The Kingdom of God is like...' and filled in the rest with a story. For Fred ... The Kingdom of God is a neighborhood."

And it's not just idle speculation or mere conjecture; the power of the Make-Believe segments is that in the imagined neighborhood, we see people interacting in a loving way. Describing the show analytically, Fred once described it thus: "[In] the opening reality of the program, we deal with the stuff that dreams are made of. In the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, we deal with it as if it were a dream. And then when it comes back to me, we deal with a simple interpretation of the dream." And his explanation supports his own words about using parables -- he introduces a theme, he expands on it by envisioning it through storytelling, and then he concludes with a reflection -- one that children can grasp.

Make-Believe, then, also indeed supports his thoughts about talking about "the Kingdom of God." He's not proselytizing; but he is depicting how he thinks of that kingdom -- as the ideal kind of community, a "neighborhood" where people are united and loving to each other, not bitter and divided.

This isn't intended to be a religious discussion per se, but it also wasn't meant to shy away from the complexity of Fred Rogers' own faith. Expressing it -- in a subtle, gentle way -- dovetails with the essence of tikkun olam, finding ways to give people hope and giving even children a vision -- of what a neighborhood can, and ought to, look like.
5. At the time of Rogers' ordination, he had already been involved in TV for a few years, and the church gave him the unique charge to minister to children and families through this medium. For as many people as it reached, he still saw it as deeply personal. To that end, he committed himself to doing something that he considered an extension of his ministry. Some estimate he may have done this action 100,000 or more times in his life. What was it?

Answer: Personally reply to his all mail

To be sure, Fred Rogers definitely did do all of the things listed -- he was known for his love of writing music and songs; he was fascinated with photographing people; and he did sometimes visit hospitalized children. That said, because of his schedule, his hospital visits were fairly uncommon. And not only have there never been any "estimates" about how just how many photos he took or how often he played the piano, it would have been highly implausible -- if not mathematically impossible -- to do those things more than 100,000 times in his life.

Yet as unbelievable as it may sound, it's estimated that Fred Rogers really did receive, read and personally reply to one hundred thousand letters. Numerous people who worked with him on the show -- such as Heather Arnet, an assistant producer -- say that about 15 to 30 letters were received every single day. Multiply that by the thirty-three years the show was produced -- about 12,000 days -- and the number is astronomical.

Letters were truly something different -- he really did read and personally answer every one he ever received. Multiple cast and crew members from the "Neighborhood" have confirmed his absolute commitment -- no matter how long it took -- to seeing that every person who wrote to him got a reply. (I can vouch for it too -- I remember writing to him when I was nine years old, and I still have his letter. An excerpt: "You are fortunate to have a mother who cares so much about what is important to you. It was also fun to see your wonderful photograph. What a fine boy you are! ... George, it meant a great deal to me that you'd like to have a real visit with us. I wish it were possible, but there is no area in the studio for guests.")

Anyway, he once remarked on working in television, "I'm not that interested in 'mass' communications. I'm much more interested in what happens between this person and the one person watching. The space between the television set and that person who's watching is very holy ground." He said that during his "television visits," he imagined himself as having a one-on-one conversation.

Well, this was great, but he wanted more. Morgan Neville, who directed the documentary about Rogers' life, described it thus: "When a child wrote to him, that was a real relationship. And in a way, being able to minister to children one-on-one through letters was almost more satisfying to him than just the show." Heather Arnet remarked that the letters were "sacred" to him. And Hedda Sharapan, another producer, said in an interview: "The mail was so important to Fred. He was doing his communicating to a television camera, and wanting to be really helpful, offering meaningful communication to children. But you have no idea who's on the other side, or how they're reacting. He was offering you a relationship, and the letters brought the other side of that relationship."

In short, for Fred, letter-writing was an extension of his ministry, because it gave him a chance to talk personally to anyone who wanted to write to him, and he reaffirmed, in his own words, that you were special to him. If that kind of dedication to relationships -- one or two hundred THOUSAND of them -- doesn't demonstrate an extraordinary expression of "tikkun olam," I don't know what does.

The quotes above were printed in an article by Court Mann in the "Deseret News".
6. Some episodes feature a special visit to the "Neighborhood" from a real-life friend of Fred's. One of the show's most famous -- and deeply moving -- visitors was a ten-year-old named Jeff Erlanger, a quadriplegic. Rogers marveled at how easily his friend explained why he used a wheelchair. There were several things that made Jeff's visit so uniquely memorable. Which of these four facts is NOT true about the segment?

Answer: It was filmed at Jeff's house in Wisconsin

There is so much one could say about this episode, which has been seen by a great many people and was featured in the documentary about Rogers. He had wanted for a while to do an episode that dealt with disabilities, and when the show's staff tried to get him to find someone close-by, Rogers was adamant: "I want Jeff." Fred and the Erlangers had met five years prior. So Jeff and his parents were flown in all the way from Madison, Wisconsin. Shortly before starting to record the segment, Fred decided to forgo the script -- which he had written -- and just have a completely natural chat. The interaction was so moving because it was so raw and authentic.

One of the reasons Fred was so insistent on featuring Jeff was that the ten-year-old had no qualms about explaining the many medical challenges that necessitated his special electric wheelchair. Rogers knew that Jeff was forthcoming, very articulate, and most of all, a happy, optimistic boy in spite of it all. At a time when people with disabilities were often stigmatized, made fun of, even shunned, Rogers wanted to make a gentle but stern lesson: Every person was of absolutely equal value, and NOBODY should be treated as inferior or as somehow "less" than others.

As Fred saw it, there were several major factors at play -- including, simply, a lack of understanding. He knew people tend to be judgmental, even fearful, of things they don't understand, so shedding light on the reality of disabilities was important. People got a chance to see someone who looked different -- on the outside -- but who was otherwise a perfectly normal boy. Again, this was a key lesson Fred wanted to impart: People's disabilities do NOT define who they are. True acceptance means treating each individual with dignity and respect.

Another component to Rogers' faith and theology was a strongly held conviction about appreciating others. In a commencement address he once gave at Marquette University, he described his feelings on the deep importance of this. He said: "I believe that appreciation is a holy thing -- that when we look for what's best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we're doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we're participating in something sacred. ... Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like 'struggle.' To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

And back in 1981, when Fred Rogers and Jeff Erlanger sat down in front of the "television home," that's exactly what took place. Fred knelt down, so as to be eye-level with Jeff, and the two just talked -- casually, honestly, enjoying the other's company. After a few moments, Rogers said, "Do you know that song that I sometimes sing called 'It's You I Like'? I'd like to sing that to you and with you." And the smile on both their faces, as they go through the lyrics, just says everything.

That's tikkun olam for you. Even in the little moments, even when you're simply enjoying another person's presence -- no act of tikkun olam is small or insignificant, because any word or act that shows care or compassion is a way of bringing healing into the world.

By the way, this talk of Fred and Jeff wouldn't be complete without mentioning the ceremony, eighteen years later, when Fred Rogers was at a ceremony inducting him into the Television Hall of Fame. It was a huge crowd, and Fred knew full well of the honor being bestowed, but that wasn't all. A loudspeaker voice announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, Jeffrey Erlanger." And onto the stage he came, still wheelchair-bound but a fine young man now 28 years old, and the camera showed Fred, mouth agape in utter amazement. He immediately stood up, clambered onto the raised stage and ran to embrace Jeff. It was 1999; they hadn't seen each other since the original "Neighborhood" visit.

Fred Rogers was simply overjoyed. The audience (which included a great many celebrities) knew Rogers' back-story with Jeff, and the camera panned around the great ballroom and saw countless people all standing, applauding and wiping away tears at this reunion. This time Fred was the recipient of tikkun olam, as Jeff told him, "When you tell people that 'it's you I like,' you know that you really mean it. And tonight I want to let you know, on behalf of millions of children and grown-ups, it is YOU that I like."

Yes, Fred still gave the short speech he had prepared for the evening, a call to goodness and to action, and it's a very emphatic message indeed, one well worth watching. But nothing was more powerful than the beautiful surprise reunion. After all those years, Fred and Jeff had never forgotten their time together so long ago, and the joy on Fred's face told it all again: Taking the time and making the effort to love your neighbor is a wonderful investment indeed.

Note: Videos of Rogers' commencement speech, and of the evening when he and Jeff were reunited, can both be found online.
7. To delve deeper into Fred Rogers and what he believed, we can take a glimpse at him as a child -- sickly, often physically isolated, and emotionally lonely. Bullied because of his weight. Later in life, he used his own memories to teach lessons he had learned about loving others (and himself). In Make-Believe, which puppet character did Fred use to reflect the difficulties he faced as a child?

Answer: Daniel, the gentle tiger

Of all the beloved puppets created by Fred, easily the two most recognizable are King Friday, the sometimes imperious ruler, and Daniel Striped Tiger, the tame, timid neighbor who lives in a grandfather clock. In real life, the Daniel puppet served Rogers well, invariably charming and disarming even stodgy adults with his meek demeanor, soft voice and gentle face whenever Fred brought him "to life."

As a character in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, though, Daniel Tiger often struggles with fear and self-doubt -- though his neighbors, especially Lady Aberlin, give him the reassurance and confidence he needs.

It isn't just idle speculation or conjecture that Fred fashioned Daniel after himself as a child -- Rogers himself alluded to the fact on a number of occasions (mostly in interviews). Margy Whitmer, the show's long-time producer, is one of the people who commented on the Fred/Daniel 'connection.' But other than Fred himself, no one made it clearer -- or was in a better position to say it -- than Joanne Rogers, Fred's beloved wife. In the documentary she said point-blank: "He did all the voices. But Daniel was the real Fred."

Daniel reflects Rogers' own childhood fears and struggles and feelings -- which many children have. Fred remembered what it's like to be small and vulnerable and unsure of yourself. But again, the neighbors also help Daniel to overcome and face the difficult things, and he takes heart in seeing that someone -- many others, in fact -- loves him, showing that we can grow into people who can love and encourage others as others first did for us. Fundamentally, the point really seems to be this: Bullied as a child himself, Fred wanted children to believe in their own God-given worth and dignity.

Rogers shows us that love is really made up of so many different connections. Every child needs to know that they are loved, and children need to learn to love themselves. This is accomplished by showing *unconditional* love: "When we love a person, we accept a person exactly as-is -- the lovely with the unlovely, the strong along with the fearful, the true mixed in with the facade," he said in a speech in 1979.

We might well say this is an example of where "love your neighbor" and tikkun olam intersect. To help someone come to believe that they are loved -- by people and by God -- isn't just a nice idea or a 'good' thing. It's essential. If "love your neighbor" is an imperative, then tikkun olam is putting it into action -- the tangible, myriad ways in which we can take the commandment and actually live it out.

This circles back to Daniel Tiger because his countless times of fear, of trepidation, of not being sure whether he is 'worthy' of being loved -- yes, so much of Fred's childhood is in these feelings, but it goes beyond that. If Daniel really is a young Fred, then the other Make-Believers are the people who speak that loving encouragement that ALL children -- both little Fred and all the others -- need so much to hear. Consider this one time from Make-Believe, when Daniel expresses to Lady Aberlin a questioning of his self-worth. He sings:

"Sometimes I wonder if I'm a mistake./ I'm not like anyone else I know./ When I'm asleep or even awake,/ Sometimes I get to dreaming that I'm just a fake./ I'm not like anyone else.
Others I know are big and are wild./ I'm very small and quite tame./ Most of the time I'm weak and I'm mild./ Do you suppose that's a shame?
Often I wonder if I'm a mistake./ I'm not supposed to be scared, am I?/ Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I shake,/ Wondering, "Isn't it true that the strong never break?"/ I'm not like anyone else I know./ I'm not like anyone else."

And Lady Aberlin sings back to him this beautiful affirmation:
"I think you are just fine as you are./ I really must tell you,/ I do like the person that you are becoming/ When you are sleeping,/ When you are waking./ You are my friend.
It's really true,/ I like you./ Crying or shaking or dreaming or breaking,/ There's no one mistaking it,/ You're my best friend.
I think you are just fine as you are./ I really must tell you,/ I do like the person that you are becoming/ When you are sleeping,/ When you are waking./ You're not a fake./ You're no mistake./ You are my friend."

There are many ways we both show love -- and receive it. In whatever form or words we may use to offer it to someone else, it can be a healing balm -- one that allows the other person to grow, to find the strength they need.

In a 1997 sermon he gave, Rogers recalled how his Grandfather McFeely's loving words had been an encouragement to him as a little boy: "Freddie, you made my day a special day by being yourself. Always remember, there's just one person in the world like you ... and I like you just the way you are." Sound familiar?

And lastly, for now, note this other recounting Fred gave of how his own suffering early on -- especially the teasing and bullying from other boys -- led him first to anger, then to sadness, but ultimately to deep compassion: "What I actually did was mourn. ... I cried through my fingers as I made up songs on the piano. I sought out stories of other people who were poor in spirit, and I felt for them. I started to look behind the things that people did and said; and little by little, concluded that Saint Exupery was absolutely right: 'What is essential is invisible to the eye.' So after a lot of sadness, I began a lifelong search for what is essential; what it is about my neighbor that doesn't meet the eye."

All three quotes from Rogers' speeches are in the book "Peaceful Neighbor."
8. Some people like to write off Fred Rogers and his show as basically just a bunch of nice-sounding messages that lack substance. But in truth, he was a man whose convictions, whose theology, ran deep, and he actively and publicly opposed wars, instead promoting nonviolence. During the Gulf War, he supported Senator John Heinz's effort to exempt which people from having to serve?

Answer: Parents of young children

As mentioned earlier, Fred Rogers was fervently anti-war -- all wars. Michael Long, in "Peaceful Neighbor," provides a lot of context for how Rogers reacted to the various wars that took place during his lifetime, and in no uncertain terms he said that wartime often took a terrible toll on children. When they're exposed to hearing and seeing and learning about the violence of war and all it entails, he said, they can't help but be influenced by it.

In short, he said, war abuses children. But actually, he continued, quite possibly the most egregious way in which that happens is that it brings forced separation of children from families. This was particularly noticeable around the Persian Gulf War. Long explains: "Because the Pentagon did not exempt from combat single parents or one member of a military couple, their children faced an uncertain future with no parent at home to care for them." Well, so adamant was Rogers that he communicated privately with a good friend of his -- Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania -- and expressed his desire that congressional action be taken on the matter. Rogers wrote to Heinz, "We must not perpetuate abuse from one generation to the next -- and separation from a young child's security (their loved ones) is a gross form of abuse."

Rogers was very grateful to learn that Senator Heinz felt likewise and decided to propose a resolution allowing parents to be exempted from service -- more precisely, "one parent of military couples" and single parents. Sadly, the Senate shot down the proposed bill. Long says that an angered Rogers wondered to Heinz, "Does the U.S. Congress have little or no understanding of early trauma due to premature separation anxiety?"

Yet despite the Senate's rejection of the idea, Fred Rogers was surely not one to just give up the effort. He spoke often, including at commencements and in PSA messages, about his position and reiterated the call to act -- to take a stand. On the "Neighborhood," he was a bit more subtle and indirect, though as usual, Make-Believe was his go-to for sharing his vision of the Kingdom of God -- in this ideal, war had absolutely no place. Rogers believed in a God of peace, and that even children could grasp the idea of never having to resort to armed conflict or violence or weapons.

Or to go back to Michael Long's words once again: "Rogers was attempting to create new bonds of security for children left behind or any child saddened or frightened by the government's actions. ... [He] was helping children understand that they did not have to be like the violent government -- which made its soldiers use real guns -- or the children in their [real-life] neighborhood[s] who mimicked soldiers. While the government was conveying that it's sometimes good to kill bad people, Rogers offered children his alternative message of nonviolence."

Actually, to expand on Rogers' multifaceted way of ministering to children, he wanted to make clear that when put into action, "loving your neighbor" is full of power. One of the quintessential messages he had for children dealt with forgiveness, not being judgmental of others, and understanding that conflict so often can arise from a simple misunderstanding, or a small argument, or by reacting with fear and mistrust when dealing with other people. "From the outsides of people, you can't always tell what's inside their hearts," Rogers once said after a Make-Believe story of a character everyone had simply assumed was wicked. "There is so much more to everyone you meet than will ever meet your eye."
9. After more than 900 episodes and 35 years, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" ended production in 2001. A few months later, that fateful day came that brought so much loss of life. Fred Rogers was persuaded to come out of retirement to record a few short messages. He offered some wisdom about how people could best respond, how to best support and love one another. Which of these was NOT one of the things he emphasized or advocated?

Answer: Bringing those responsible to justice

There's an awful lot here to talk about, but it's worth the time to go into...

Margy Whitmer said that one day, she came to get Fred and walk to the studio with him to record some short post-9/11 messages. But "he was very troubled," she recalled. "And I said, 'Fred, what's wrong?' ... "And he started to cry. 'I just don't know if I'm doing any good.'" Whitmer says she realized that this time, Rogers was the one who was struggling and who needed a firm, reaffirming word, because "when the horror of 9/11 hit him, I think it was a real eye-opener." So she embraced him and then urged him to do the recordings -- because now was a time when more than ever, a grieving nation needed his comforting words.

This is as good a starting-point as any for this discussion. It reminds us how profound an impact Fred DID have, both during his lifetime and long after. But it also reminds us that Fred Rogers was just as human and given to times of struggle and self-questioning as anyone else. Nobody goes through life without times of sadness and doubt, wondering if they can make a difference. And one of the reasons Rogers was so upset was because the terror attacks ran so radically contrary to everything he had always stood for and advocated -- particularly being a loving neighbor, showing kindness, and actively striving for peace. But as shaken as he was for a time, Rogers still believed in his -- and God's -- vision of peace.

Anyway, as to some of the themes Rogers emphasized in the wake of 9/11, he said a great deal about many things, but the one thing he most certainly did NOT talk of was retaliation, or even "bringing to justice," those who had done evil. Violence begets violence, and "peace means far more than the absence of war," Rogers said. "Peace, like love or like hope, is an action one can take, something that can be done, not just something that might arrive."

As Michael Long observes, even what Bush called the "War on Terror" was itself something to be opposed. Rogers wanted action, all right -- but he didn't agree that war in any form was the right thing to do. In his view, as long as there was war -- even in the name of 'justice' -- it was still terribly damaging to children, who would just be that much more inundated with scary stories and gruesome images.

No, here was one of Rogers' visions for how people could strive together. Though he had known the concept for decades, Rogers finally invoked the two words we've been talking about, and what it truly meant to him: "No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we are all called upon to be TIKKUN OLAM, repairers of creation ... to bring joy and light and hope and faith and pardon and love to your neighbor and to yourself."

Apart from a slight nuance of translation (to "be" versus to "do" tikkun olam), this is indeed the literal meaning of the Hebrew: "repair of the world." [Some sources use "creation" rather than "the world."]

This is another message Rogers gave: "I know how tough it is some days, to look with hope and confidence in the months and years ahead. But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are. And ... I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything that you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods."

Well, let's look further still at some of the many things that made up Fred Rogers' beliefs and convictions and words throughout his life. For one, almost everyone has heard this little line repeated in recent years: "Look for the helpers." It's a famous snippet extracted from a longer one that Fred often shared, including on the "Neighborhood." It needs to be understood IN CONTEXT, so consider this as he spoke it in 1981: "We're going to talk about some sad and scary things. ... The people who are doing these terrible things are making a lot of other people sad and angry. But when WE get sad and angry, you and I, WE know what to do with our feelings so we don't have to hurt other people. When I was a boy and I would hear about something scary -- [like] somebody getting badly hurt ... I'd ask my parents or my grandparents about it, and they would usually tell me how they felt about it. ... My mother would try to find out who was helping [those] who got hurt. 'Always look for the people who are helping,' she'd tell us. 'You'll always find somebody who's trying to help.' So even today when I read the newspaper and see the news on television, I look for the people who were trying to help."

Well, there's very rarely quoted counterpart to that, one that was a huge part of why Rogers so fervently opposed war: "To raise a generation which is not abused (by war or any other means) should be our goal. As you can see so clearly, the abused grow up to be the abusers -- sometimes on a worldwide scale. ... The abuses of war breed abusers who grow up to sow the seeds of future wars."

In other words ... what happens in children's formative years can help mold them into healthy, caring adults ... or into emotionally ravaged adults full of fear, anger, and the idea that somehow violence is okay.

In a 2002 parenting book, Rogers wrote, "One of the most important messages we can give our children is, 'It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to hurt ourselves or others.' Besides giving children the right to their anger, we can encourage them to find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we'll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the world's future peacemakers -- the world's future 'helpers.'"

So Rogers' life was one with ideas of a marvelous transition -- between childhood and adulthood -- and from SEEING the helpers to BEING the helpers. This is really "core" stuff, but first we need to differentiate: Fundamentally, the "look for the helpers" message was really a reassurance to CHILDREN -- that they can take hope from seeing people who care. THAT remark was primarily meant as a reassurance for children. But the post-9/11 words about "tikkun olam" was the message for ADULTS: Don't simply LOOK for tikkun olam, for the healers -- ACT on it, PARTICIPATE in it. This was the whole point all along. And he was emphatic: "We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond."

And we can very easily connect so very much of all this -- ALL that we've considered -- in relation to Fred Rogers as a man whose ministry, though primarily aimed at children for most of his life and career, had deep theological roots. The Neighborhood of Make-Believe? As we've said, that's his parable -- in fact, his vision -- for "the Kingdom of God among us" (that is, in our midst -- on earth) -- it's the ideal that even now, the world CAN be a place where people treat one another with love and respect, and work together as neighbors to form a "neighborhood," a great worldwide one, that reflects how God has always desired and intended us to "be" and live. Think about it. The show by its very name recalls the command to "love your neighbor."

At its heart, the core connection is that for Rogers, many of the most-meaningful expressions of tikkun olam are reflected in the commandment to "love your neighbor," which so deeply informed Rogers' own Christian faith.

Margy Whitmer's quote is from the Fred Rogers documentary. Rogers' words about "abuse" are quoted in "Peaceful Neighbor." Videos of his PSA messages are online.
10. Fred Rogers passed away back in 2003, but many people all over the world have celebrated his life, his ministry. Numerous books have been written about him; two films, a documentary and a biographical drama, have been produced. And until her passing in early 2021, Fred's beloved wife of 50 years, Joanne Rogers, was a steward of his legacy and message. To all those who loved him, she did give one very-gentle exhortation. What was it?

Answer: Don't make him into a saint

Over the 17 years that Joanne lived after her dear husband died in February 2003, she really stayed committed to keeping Fred's legacy of love and acceptance alive. Throughout her life, she was absolutely an extraordinary woman in her own right -- very talented, an advocate of many causes, and just generally a wonderful, godly, sweet woman who always had a warm smile and gentle voice. She had no qualms about discussing how she and Fred met and why their marriage was such a happy one for both of them.

Anyway, Joanne really came into the spotlight around the time of the "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" documentary. Both in many interviews and in the film -- and in fact, to the creators of the film, as well -- she said, "Just don't make Fred into a saint. ... People might not know how hard he worked." Hedda Sharapan, mentioned before, agreed: "If you make him out to be a saint, nobody can 'get there.' They'll think he's some otherworldly creature." Those two quotes were from interviews for the New York Times Magazine.

But at other times, Joanne put the sentiment a little differently: "It's important for you to know that he was not a saint. Because if you think of him as a saint, then his message is unattainable," she said in the documentary. And in yet another interview, journalist Heather Catlin remarked: "I love how you told everyone, 'Don't think of my husband as a saint, because he wasn't -- he was a person. Why did you want to make that clear to everyone?" And Joanne replied, "I shouldn't have said that." She started laughed heartily, adding: "I've been getting a LOT of questions about that." But then she clarified: "I said it because he worked very hard on the hard things of life. And I always think of a saint as somebody who is good without working [at it] at all. But he worked hard on his ministry. ... He walked the walk."

We'll return to one other comment of Joanne's, but first there are a few more things that merit inclusion, just to bring some finality to the bigger-picture discussion. Recall that one of the things Fred was so adamant about was that war is so damaging, and for that matter, children needed to be provided ways they could deal with their fears and anger without hurting anyone? Well, let's think about that for a moment. In Make-Believe one day, Lady Elaine has been creating and will star in her own soap opera. When the time comes, she realizes she has forgotten her lines, and she becomes embarrassed, upset, and very angry with herself -- and she thinks the others will be disappointed too. But King Friday's son, Prince Tuesday, gives her some warm words of reassurance. The following exchange takes place among them and other neighbors:

Lady Elaine (to Prince Tuesday): You mean you liked me, and you liked me still [in spite of my mistake]?
Prince Tuesday: I LOVE you. I really do.
Lady Elaine: Will wonders never cease...?
[King Friday interjects an apology, acknowledging he was wrong to have previously criticized the others for enjoying the day rather than being busy.]
Mayor Maggie: Sounds like you've had a change of heart about such things.
King Friday: My night has been absorbed by the light of your efforts.
Mr. Aber: And such a dawn has made actors of us all.
Lady Elaine: Again I say, will loving wonders ever cease?
Mr. Aber: I hope not. And we're the ones who can keep those wonders happening.

And remember also how Rogers once said that Make-Believe is like a dream, and that afterwards, he gives a "simple interpretation" of the dream? Well, in this episode, the Trolley transitions us back from the realm of imagination to reality, and Rogers explains: "Lady Elaine said, 'Will loving wonders never cease?' That means, 'Will there always be people who will love other people, even when they make mistakes?' I sure hope that there will be. ... The toughest thing is to love somebody who has done something mean to you. Especially when that somebody has been yourself. Have you ever done anything mean to yourself? Well, it's very important to look inside yourself and find that loving part of you. That's the part that you must take good care of and NEVER be mean to. Because that's the part of you that allows you to love your neighbor. And your neighbor is ANYONE you happen to be with at any time in your life. Respecting and loving your neighbor can give everybody a good feeling."

It's one of his few direct references (on "Neighborhood") to a biblical phrase -- "love your neighbor" -- but it's full of power. Off-camera, he often recalled very fondly Dr. Orr, a professor of his at seminary, who spoke often of "the accuser" and "the advocate." The simple point was that "the accuser ... which is 'Satan' in Hebrew" ... will try to make you feel terrible about yourself, so that in turn, "you will ... look with condemning eyes on your neighbor and will believe the worst about him or her." But by contrast, "the advocate" ... that is, the Spirit of Jesus ... "will do anything to encourage us ... [and] to remind us that we are lovable and our neighbor is lovable too."

Once again, for Fred -- and Joanne -- their lives were all about helping bring healing and peace to our neighbors, helping it spread across the land, so that like what happens in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, we would all work together for the "Kingdom of God on earth" -- the loving way God intended us to live and treat all our neighbors.

Fred once said at a commencement, "The way we say 'thank you' to God and to each other is the greatest imaginable form of appreciation. In fact, the reason we are created in God's image -- in God's tzelem ['Image' in Hebrew] -- is to be God's representatives on this earth -- to do here what God would do -- to take care of the land and each other as God would take care of us."

So returning to Joanne, after Fred's death, she gave speeches on a fairly regular basis, including a TED Talk, where she re-emphasized one of her husband's strong admonitions: "Make goodness attractive." She quoted him one time: "Let's take the gauntlet and make goodness attractive in this so-called next millennium. That's the real job that we have. I'm not talking about Pollyanna-ish kind of stuff. I'm talking about down-to-Earth actual goodness. People caring for each other in a myriad of ways rather than people knocking each other off all the time. ... What changes the world? The only thing that ever really changes the world is when somebody gets the idea that love can abound and can be shared." And she added, of goodness and love, "Let it pour over you. And let your soul feel it. Enjoy it."

And as to her one other remark about why people shouldn't treat Mister Rogers as some sort of saint -- because as wonderful a legacy he left and as wonderful an example he was, he wasn't a saint and wouldn't WANT to be thought of as such. His greatest lesson, quite possibly, was that if we like the lessons he taught, and the way he loved and accepted us -- then we all CAN and SHOULD do the same. Joanne: "[Fred is] out there now as somebody who's somehow way above all the rest of us. People invariably say, 'Well, I can't do that, but I sure do admire him. I would love to do it.' Well, you CAN do it. I'm convinced there are lots of Fred Rogerses out there."

Allow me to come back to tikkun olam again for a moment, this time as written about by Rabbi Sarah Mack: "We are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people. It once was whole, but now fragmented, it lies all around us waiting for discovery. We have the capacity to lift it up and make it visible once more and, thereby, to restore the wholeness of the world. In this way, we are each tasked with healing the world one light, one heart at a time. Healing the world is not reserved for only the holiest among us. We are all healers of the world. The power to heal resides in each of us."

The comments from Dr. Orr are quoted in "Peaceful Neighbor." The commencement quote is from Marquette University's website. The Ted Talk is available on YouTube. The quote from Rabbi Sarah Mack is available in a PDF online.

A deep thank-you to the editor who worked and dialogued so much with me on this quiz, which I wish to dedicate to my friend Paul, who has shown me more love, acceptance and encouragement (including in this endeavor) than I could have ever thought I deserved.
Source: Author MrNobody97

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor ponycargirl before going online.
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