This I Believe

Farah - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 16, 2006

PBS remains accessible to every American household with a television set, allowing audiences of all ages to learn, whether it’s a three-year-old dancing with Elmo, or a thirty-year old, learning from Frontline’s high-quality journalism. PBS Kids shows shape characteristics in children like kindness and helpfulness, while Nova and Globe Trekker bring fascinating discoveries to more mature audiences. I believe in the importance of stimulating public broadcasting.

Nova recently aired an episode titled, “Family That Walks On All Fours” about five family members in Turkey born with genetic defects that caused them to have decreased balance and therefore the need to walk on their hands and feet. The subject matter was handled delicately, with respect to the family’s religious beliefs and their comfort zone. The episode explored possible reasons for the unusual disability. The visiting team of scientists even helped the family practice better balance, providing them with parallel bars and walkers. I was moved by the hope the family gained from the team’s compassion and by their progress in learning to walk after at least twenty years of shame and isolation. They practiced their new balance alongside seashore: a place they had previously been too afraid to visit. The Scientists evaluated their bone structures and found similarities to the skeleton of Lucy, our earliest known ancestor. Their DNA was also analyzed, leading to further understanding of gene complications. The program explored how the human spine and wrists have evolved, allowing humans to be bipedal.

I was amazed that no other station had aired this exciting development in the link to the origins of humanity as it exists today. While other channels aired sitcoms and sports, PBS aired a jaw-dropping development in the understanding of human biology. I felt enlightened and humbled by the show. I thanked God for my ability to walk.

Just a few nights before that episode, Globe Trekker explored Malaysia. The show explained how Malaysia features gift shops for the dead, where everything is made of paper. Customers buy gifts such as paper cars or paper DVDs and burn them in an open flame just outside the store, believing deceased loved ones will receive them. I had never studied Malaysia’s concepts of the afterlife. I learned about a beautiful culture while eating dinner in the comfort of my home.

PBS also brought me the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Austin City Limits: a soothing performance by a South African group preaching compassion for mankind and paying respects to those who have suffered needlessly.

I deeply appreciate PBS’s efforts to bring intelligent, groundbreaking programming to television, for it is necessary to the continuation of my growth and understanding. This I believe.