411 Focus

Mr. Rogers -- Rev., really -- the man who didn't have to raise his voice to be heard

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Soph ... or Soft?

Remember that song, “Sophisticated Lady”? I wouldn’t dare start singing it for you. See, singing’s not my strong suit, though I did a lot when I was younger. But, I know if you’re a product of the sixties or seventies, or even further back, you are familiar with the image that song brings up. In fact, a few years back.

You look through that list of “soph” words, and you probably get a warm feeling – the kind that starts a “sorta” smile right behind your lips … like a promise. You can’t get more positive than that, now, can you?

I used to freak my Soph (sophomore) students out when I separated the word sophomore into its two parts… kinda like a new bride sticking an innocent, unsophisticated hand into the beautifully tucked, innocent tail end of the Thanksgiving turkey and pulling up the giblets, a pile of nondescript fowl findings that look nothing like the promises on the wrapper – one half cool, and one half fool. I didn’t use those words, of course. No sense risking slashed tires as my lesson for the day!

If you look up the etymology of sophistry, you’ll find a definition a bit less friendly than expected. In fact, you’ll find terms like specious, fallacious, deceptive… all of which smell mighty like trickery … putting one over on somebody, which brings me to today’s pitch: Everything dressed up and packaged to catch the eye, the mind, and the whole person!

I just saw a post from Stephanie, a rather special RHS alumnus, about Mr. Rogers, and several others posted comments, all recalling the wholesomeness of the show. It was about as plain as plain could get: A little train running around the track, Mr. Rogers coming in the house and donning that plain sweater, the simple song with no accompanying blasts into mikes one inch from the mouth, or mandatory jerking of pants that seemingly just met – in passing – a belt.

Mr. Rogers – Rev., really – was just about as plain and down to earth as anybody could get. Yet kids hustled home to watch the show that had no blood, no violence, no “cussing,” no confrontation – nothing to keep them glued to their seats with eyes wide open!

There was nothing so exciting, so out of the ordinary that the kids had to race home, drag up a chair or sprawl on the floor, or eat with their elbows propped on the table, missing their mouths, but not daring to look away from the gray screen a minute. “No biggie,” they surmised. The dog would get whatever missed their mouths. Mr. Rogers was on, and they didn’t dare miss a minute!

Yet they hied themselves home and sat transfixed in front of the screen, a perfect, attentive audience for the man who didn’t have to raise his voice to be heard, or wait on “pause” while the little ones scrolled and swiped their cells, lest they miss something totally unfunny!

Today’s audiences – and I use that term loosely, very, very, loosely – are “sophisticates.” It matters not if they cannot read, speak, or spell. That stuff’s unimportant. Fed a bunch of lies since they were able to swallow – from people in power… more power than the “ole skool” village that “ole fools” talk about – they can’t even hear what’s different: “As long as I got three or four hundred “followers,” I’m cool!”

Dare I tell them that the family of “sophisticate” has a shady past… and it’s right up front?

Story Posted:07/08/2018

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