Recently, I happened to be flipping through the channels and I happened upon an old episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, one that originally aired on April 16, 1999, and yet it looked so very old. I would’ve kept going but it had just started and I saw the title of this particular episode “Mr. Rogers Talks About the Enivornment”. And it was in fact one episode out of a whole weeks theme on caring for the environment and taking a look at how children can work together with their parents to help care for our planet.
The episode started out by Mr. Rogers receiving a greeting card and talking about how to convert a used greeting card into a new greeting card that you can send it to someone else. You simply tear carefully along the fold of the card to remove the top, thus making a post card type greeting card. Mr. Rogers even explored ways to reuse items around the house, including turning old items into toys and games.
Then Mr. McFeely stopped by and discussed a little bit about trash, the overflowing dumps and his important message of “Think before you throw anything away”. He then sped off on his bike in his “own effort to help save the environment”.
In the world of make believe several things happened including King Friday accidentally making 200 copies of something he only needed 2 copies of which made for a discussion of what to do with the other 198 pieces of paper. Mr. McFeely showed up and told them that they should save the paper and that they needed to be careful because the neighborhood garbage dump is getting full. He then gave Bob Dog the job of going through some trash bins to see what he could save.
Messages abounded of too much garbage, the dump being full and people saying things like “the garbage dump never gets full”. But then when people visited the dump there was surprise over the amount of garbage. After an initial discussion of what to do, they quickly decided the solution was to find another dump. But of course, that was not the solution at all since this was a problem everyone was facing. The group needed to think a little harder.
The message was that you just don’t think about things until it’s not available anymore and you have to think of new solutions, get creative and really learn to use your resources wisely. In looking beyond Mr. Rogers traditional message of loving yourself and others, he adds the message of loving your environment and how learning more about the world can help you learn more about yourself.
These are indeed good words to live by….and great things to be teaching children. As it turns out, the sweatered man was actually a little progressive.