In the 1970’s after the devastation of the Vietnam War and a much needed Civil Rights movement people craved a return to the tenets of community, and a fallback to the belief in the common good, honor, character and values that surpassed what you looked like or what was in your pocket. As a result, numerous television shows deemed wholesome “a show the entire family could watch” appeared that brought these concepts into our homes each week.
“Walton’s Mountain” depicted a family struggling to survive the Depression. During this challenging time, multiple generations of grandparents, parents and six children had to depend on each other. The economic catastrophe brought unimaginable hardships but their love, support and willingness to overcome any obstacle together was what got them through it. John-boy, the eldest son, was the central character who narrates the story of his family as written by real life author Earl Hamner Jr in 1961.
“Little House on the Prairie”, also based on real life author Laura Ingalls, showed life in the American west in the 19th century. Michael Landon, famous from the “Bonanza” series starred as the patriarch. He and his family represented goodness, kindness and the golden rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” No matter the hardships, belief in ourselves and each other, hard work and goodwill can get us through anything.
Later Micheal Landon went on to star in and produce “Highway to Heaven”. A probationary angel is sent down to earth to guide humans into recognizing better ways to interact. It often presented the horrifying ways we treat our elders, those who are different or have disabilities. The show opens as he’s traveling down a highway in need of a ride. A crotchety older gentleman demands money for the privilege claiming “nothing is free in this world sonny,”only to hear Michael Landon respond, “Kindness is.”
Nowadays this sounds silly, old fashioned, and even corny. And too many of these shows are terribly dated and in some cases, presented inappropriate references and comments related to gender and race. But we could definitely use more venues that espouse values that encourage us to be kinder, gentler and more understanding.
Especially now, after seeing a despicable attack on the United States Capitol, where leaders who represent the democratic foundation of our country, with all its liberties and freedoms, preside. It’s the heart and soul of our country. Agree or not with the decisions they pass, they are one of the three bastions that defend our governing system. Those with an intent to destroy our rights stormed and desecrated that sacred place.
When I saw people wearing shirts touting “ Camp Auschwitz” and “6MWE” which stands for “ six million wasn’t enough” referencing the 6 million Jews gassed and murdered in the Holocaust, the pain and horror was overwhelming. When I saw the Confederate flag defile the halls of the Capitol, my heart broke. Clearly all we thought we had achieved in the last fifty years, all the magnificent advances towards human rights and equality, just fomented and buried deeper a cesspool of hated. And now they have been encouraged to spew their ugliness.
A throwback to the values espoused in those shows is desperately needed today. I am not advocating a return to “Walton’s Mountain: or waiting for an angel to speak the words we need to hear. Now, we each must take on that role. It’s time we each searched within and determined what kind of future we want for ourselves and our families. One based on hatred, disparaging, and harming those who are different or don’t believe as we do? Or one that unites, allows the debate of all opinions, emphatically rejects violence and gets us all through to a better place? Now we all must flood the airways with our horror at this heinous act.
Now more than ever we all need to stand up and say in one voice, “never again.”
We will not tolerate violence, bigotry, destruction.
It may not be towards you or someone you love, yet.
But as Martin Niemollor said,
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
When all have been purged with impunity, who will be there when you are next?