A Study in Kindness

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Did you know that Sesame Street will celebrate 50 years on the air later this year? Fifty years of Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Elmo and countless others.

I was well past the targeted viewer age when it debuted, but I watched. In fact, like many others, I have watched off and on for most of those soon to be 50 years.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has been around for almost 57 years. That one I came to much later in life. Like many people, I found myself captivated by the simple message:

You are okay just as you are.

Both iconic shows endeavored to educate youngsters on a variety of topics. Sesame Street sought to start pre-kindergartners on the road to education by teaching numbers, colors, and simple concepts like ‘near’ or ‘far’. Mr. Rogers, thanks to Mr. McFeeley and the magic mirror, gave us a behind the scenes look at lots of things. How crayons are made, what do bakers do, etc.

Both, however, dealt with topics and issues that went beyond basic education. They taught people of all ages about kindness, empathy, and compassion.

By dealing with scary topics like divorce, 9/11 and natural disasters, kids were given the tools they needed to begin to understand ways to deal with a world neither they, nor their parents, controlled.

Ethnic and religious differences were shown not as a negative, but as a potential starting point to getting to know your neighbor. This was extended to include Autism and physical impairment.

Not bad for shows with puppets and silly kid songs. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

Categories: Musings TV

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