Sesame Street is the only show my toddler watches consistently. This is because not only does the show teach mathematic, linguistic, and scientific concepts, but it also exposes kids to values I like. And then there’s the other key thing – Sesame Street is diverse. This is more what the world looks like, than say, our neighborhood which is very typical rural California (Latino and white).
Sesame Street fills an important niche in the preschool market. It helps increase exposure to diverse groups of people (on nearly every spectrum) as well as teaching tolerance, empathy, and compassion. We don’t have shows like this for other age groups.
This is why I’m so interested in the idea of intentional fiction. There are many outlets who try to promote counter narratives that include positive values of empathy and compassion. There are many outlets that try to promote diverse narratives. Still, functioning in a WASP, heteronormative, male dominant culture, it takes effort to find these counter narratives. It takes consistent work to foster them and amplify their impact.
This is important work. It is key work. Encouraging other narratives encourages empathy and compassion because it increases exposure, and therefore humanizes those who are different. The more we are exposed to difference, the less different it feels. It becomes normal. When it becomes normal, it gets really difficult to continue treating someone different as less than human.
This makes me sound like a social justice warrior (SJW), and maybe I am, but not for the reason you might think. I’m not angry about this (though anger would be understandable). I’m not sad about the current state, though sadness makes sense too. Rather, I am focused on one thing and one thing only – helping other people to love, specifically, to love actively. The more opportunities I can create for developing and fostering this, the better it is for everyone.
Active love refers to empathy and compassion. This is the kind of thing that motivates and drives action. This is the kind of thing that is such a force, you can’t sit by on the sidelines and do nothing. When you love actively, you can’t watch someone suffer. You have to do something. You have to support them in whatever way you can – be a shoulder, offer a kind word, or give resources.
Media is a tool to teach us how to love actively. It teaches us how to behave, how to see other people, and what is acceptable in life.
- Between Chaos and Order: The Need For A Middle Way - June 18, 2018
- Spiritual Mamas: Intuition, Spirituality, and Motherhood - June 4, 2018
- Neither Selfish or Selfless – Only Loving! - April 30, 2018