What Would Mr. Rogers Say About Donald Trump?
I’ll admit that this title is purposefully misleading because in Morgan Neville’s masterfully Oscar snubbed documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” one of the Producers on "Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood" Junlei Li says “What would Fred Rogers do"? It's not a question that you can answer. The most important question is, "What are you going to do?” Having quoted Mr. Li, I think what I would if I was in Mr. Roger’s position speaking to children regarding a man like Donald Trump holding the oval office is to come from an empathetic angle. How would I explain the unspeakably cruel words that the President of The United States regurgitates every single day? If I were to teach empathy despite all the hate that may be in my heart towards Mr. Trump how would I try to form an opinion of a man that instills the worst feelings of anxiety amongst children? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with children in my past is that teaching them to hate in any form is counterproductive. The things children must learn even with people like Trump is how to approach him from an angle of understanding. I’d make him one of us. As perverse as such a concept may sound it may be the sanest thing I could do.
The following is me speaking to children if I was in Mr. Roger’s position.
"Most children are taught the value of love through their parents. My parents have taught me to love one another for who they are. The complexion of someone else's skin doesn't equate to the measure of their character. There are some people however who are not taught to love all equally, so they do not show love to others like most of us do. They are trained not to tolerate others merely because they look different, so they grow up afraid."
From here I’d significantly differ from Rogers as I believe he wouldn’t call individuals by name but for me, I feel I would have to address succinctly who we are talking about to spare confusion.
"Mr. Trump was taught by his father from a young age not to let any men or women who looked different than them into his dad's hotel buildings that he owned. Mr. Trump's dad would use ugly words regarding other people when he grew up because he wasn’t taught to love others who were different than him. Donald Trump’s father taught his son that having more money makes you superior to others. The more you have, the less they have."
From this point, I’d turn to the children.
"If you had five dollars for example and the boy next to you had ten dollars would the boy next to you be a better person?"
I'd wait for the children to answer.
"It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket or what you look like. You’re special because you are who you are and nobody can take that from you. Mr. Trump’s father isn’t a bad man, but a man raised on a thing we call values. Value is a word one uses to express what he or she thinks about the world so they can pass it onto everyone they know in their neighborhood. Mr. Trump’s dad was taught values that are hurtful to others because maybe his dad taught those values to him, so he explained it to his son. Many feel hate towards Mr. Trump, and indeed, there are many times I do too. I think however that hate is something we can't fight but figure out. I feel sorry that Mr. Trump has so much hatred in his heart, but we don’t have to share that hatred. Teaching love is something much more powerful than hate. I hope one day someone like him can learn to love once more."
Admittedly I wrote this in Fred Roger’s voice, but if I were in his position, I wouldn’t tell any child that someone is inherently evil. There is evil in the world; Trump certainly encompasses that element but evil stems from childhood development. It stems from hate, from pain. I would teach children the lesson of where hate comes from. It would be my topic of the week. It would never reach Mr. Trump’s toxic heart, but it would teach children the value of understanding why people become bad and why they must learn to always value the good that exists in our world.