"Sesame Street" was one of my favorite shows as a kid. I have fond memories of sitting cross-legged in my living room, eyes-glued to Elmo’s World and Oscar the Grouch as my mother would struggle to shove lunch down my throat before I took off for afternoon kindergarten at my Montessori school.
"Sesame Street" was one of those shows that is near and dear to so many of us, simply because of its longevity (first episode aired in 1969) and the kind of valuable lessons and beautiful innocence it channeled through its lovable, fluffy monsters.
"Sesame Street", to this day, never fails to put a smile on my face. Which is why, when I come to know about all kinds of disturbing news these past few weeks on terrorist attacks and hate crimes, I just had to hop on YouTube and pull up my favorite underrated "Sesame Street" song:
This is one of those songs that will have an evergreen place in my heart. It is the quintessential feel-good song. And conveys such a beautiful message. 1:40 – 1:50 of the video is right about when I sort of lost it. “All of us can have a happy healthy place to be, if we can float and swim and climb in earthling harmony”.
I was literally tearing up. Partially because the turtle and bird puppets are so adorable, but mostly because the sheer purity and simplicity of that sentence.
I was reminded of this little song a few months ago when the shooting of Cecil the Lion was making national headlines. What Dr. Walter James Palmer did by hunting Cecil and countless other innocent (and some endangered) animals, is just one example of irrational animal murder, and the lack of respect for fellow "earthlings". And the numerous incidents about which we are hearing today, which are making our hearts hurt and our souls weary, (i.g. gun violence, attacks on civilians, racism, and so much more) are just more examples of humans failing to treat one another as fellow human beings.
Respect, kindness, patience: these are values that are taught to us from day one of school. Or probably even before that, by parents.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
“Be kind, everyone matters!”
I’m pretty sure these phrases covered the walls of my Montessori school classroom, and every classroom after that in years following. We grow up surrounded by these morals. We see them on television shows like "Sesame Street". So why do we have to come to terms with the disturbing reality that human beings are still being killed unjustly, sold into trafficking, slavery and all kinds of horrific unimaginable abusive situations? And why do we have to sit around reading about elephants in Thailand who are tied up, beaten, and forcefully trained to paint pictures for tourists? Or baby seals in Canada that are literally slaughtered for fun? For sport?
I am sometimes frustrated with the world. There is a lot of good, but there is also so much "badness" that is very easy to ignore, or forget. Elmo and his Muppet friends on "Sesame Street" showed me that I should love all life forms. And I truly do. So why doesn’t everyone else? Wouldn’t that be the answer to so many of the world’s problems? If we all just stepped out of our own bubbles for a few seconds and consciously chose to respect our planet and show kindness to all of its earthlings, wouldn’t the world truly be spinning in harmony?
"Be the change you want to see in the world," they say.
I’m not really sure how to be that change. But for now, I plan to continue playing my part as an earthling. One that takes responsibility for the future by actively being good to the world around me. And I encourage everyone to do the same.