I believe in TV.
When I was a kid, my parents worked 3 jobs plus. So even when they were home, they weren’t big on playing Mousetrap or setting up army men or throwing the Frisbee. Luckily for me, there was TV.
This was BSS – Before Sesame Street. Educational programming for kids was scarce and dry. True, you could learn how to block an eye gouge with the Three Stooges; and I even gave spinach a try thanks to Popeye. But even though there wasn’t much aimed at me, there was plenty there for me.
Beaver taught me it wasn’t the end of the world when you made a mistake. Walter Cronkite admitted even grown-ups mess up, like in Viet Nam. Jim McKay showed me there really was a wide world of sports out there. And Captain Kirk proved it takes all kinds of people to run a starship.
Now I could’ve read books instead, but I didn’t, and I wouldn’t till much later. Still I somehow knew about science and geography and current events the other kids didn’t. We didn’t go to church, but somehow I knew about right from wrong and the Golden Rule. And we never went to Philadelphia, a city only 9 miles away, but yet I knew all about its history and politics and culture — well, as much as a kid can; but even if I didn’t understand it, I knew it was out there, waiting to be understood some day.
So maybe I should’ve picked all this up from teachers and clergy. But the point is, I didn’t. It was TV that showed me there was a bigger world out there. That not everybody had plastic slipcovers or thought Martin Luther King was a trouble maker who didn’t know his place.
Now today, I admit it feels different. I leave my kids alone with the TV the way I would leave them with a tipsy uncle: just waiting for the coarseness to come out. But then I think there’s probably somebody out there, like I was, who desperately needs to see there’s a world of possibilities out there. That’s why, even now, I believe in TV.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.