Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

Every once and a while someone asks me if I miss the city at all.

We’ve been living here in the exurbs exiled by ferry waits for nine years. What I used to say was that I missed the movies. The two movie theatres here usually show very fine movies in which I have no interest. Lately I’ve noticed though that I don’t go to movies even ones that come to the Sunshine Coast that I am somewhat interested in. So I think I don’t even miss going to the movies.

But the other day it was so hot when I went to the city to visit my son that we decided the best thing to do was to go to an air-conditioned movie theatre. My son might have settled for horror; I could’ve watched a romantic comedy if I was cool enough. But we went to “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about Mr. Rogers.

In his TV show Mr. Rogers was slow on purpose. He would spend long times in silence, for example while he was feeding his fish. He was a subtle activist; once he invited a black police officer to soak his hot feet in a little wading pool with him, while in the greater world, people fussed and fumed about whether black people should be allowed in public swimming pools.

There are two kinds of people in the world I’ve discovered since. When I enthuse about this movie, there are those who watched Mr. Rogers, either as a kid, or as a parent, and those who didn’t. Those who didn’t just give me a blank look. Those who did watch it remember well his core message.

“There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.”


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