Cynicism is very safe. I’ve been repeating that to myself a lot these last few months. It’s very easy to dismiss, to obfuscate, and to suspect. Whataboutism is a crutch for the willfully unengaged. Contrarianism is the last refuge of stubborn douchenozzles who refuse to be vulnerable, refuse to allow the culture they supposedly champion wash over them in a deep and meaningful way. Everything must be conquered, beaten, out-thought. It’s obnoxious. Still, it’s hard to argue with those who can’t bring themselves to buy in. Our world is a disaster zone. Our politics are in the shitter. Our planet is melting away. The internet is a toddler with a chainsaw. Truths that were once self-evident have been cast into soul-crushing doubt. But a wise Jedi once said that no one (and, by extension, nothing) is ever really gone. Hope and love persevere as long as we champion them, and there was no more dogged champion of hope or love than Mr. Rogers.
Rogers would then invite his neighbor to the world of Make Believe, a hand puppet fantasy kingdom overseen by King Friday and his cohorts Queen Sarah, Lady Elaine, Daniel Striped Tiger, X the Owl, and other curious creatures. While his puppets had their share of neighborhood drama, Rogers, according to Neville’s talking heads, always distinguished between the world of Make Believe and the one outside. He didn’t want children to be confused about what was real and what was not, especially when he dove into difficult topics like war, divorce, disability, racism, and death. Although the ordained minister (who never actually preached — he chose television as his pulpit) intended to moralize, proselytize, and sermonize, he would not lie to his neighbors about the horrors of the world around them. He would not pretend that all problems had equitable solutions or that those who tried their best would always succeed. He simply respected children far too much for that.