When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
I am proudly among the first generation to know Big Bird, Ernie and Bert, Kermit, and Oscar the Grouch (my favorite). Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno helped me with my reading skills on “Electric Company.” I can’t even list all that Mr. Rogers taught me. Later on, “Nova” fed me science information that was more up to date than what I was learning in my textbooks. The countless documentaries that I still watch give me history and peeks into the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people. “American Experience,” “American Masters,” and Ken Burns take me back in time and illuminate me. Bill Moyers gave me a piece of my penchant to take a bite at the news. Bob Ross, Austin City Limits, Julia Child… The list goes on.
Much later, PBS Sprout helped me both entertain and educate my daughter, from the time she was an infant; I would turn it on while she was in her play space and I would sing and repeat things to her. We even had our own version of “letter and number of the day” which was whatever magnet I swept out from under the refrigerator that day.
The millions of children and adults who get enlightened to learning all mourn the total defunding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the umbrella under which PBS and all of our beloved and revered characters find their shelter. Now their lives will quieted, but never lost. What person alive has not tuned to their local PBS or NPR station since the late 60’s?
In the regressive and Draconian times we are finding ourselves in, when education, science, and culture are vilified, we must look to those who wish to see the history, culture and education live on. Without you, one of the brightest lights of our lives will be extinguished.
Do not rest in peace. There is no peace in ignorance.
We must look for the helpers. Where are the helpers?
To again quote the late, great Mr. Rogers:
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”