My son loves to look at cartoons. I guess it’s his way of coping with the reality of ‘real’ people and the issues that surround us, so he retreats into the world of cartoons where people are knocked down and get back up, animals talk and act like humans, and except when Jerry gets the better of Tom, there is always a happy ending.
He was laughing so heartily while looking at the television recently that I decided to join him and laugh too! The show being aired was ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’, a cartoon about the adventures of Rocky the squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose who resided in a town called Frostbite Falls.
The narrator in the cartoon said that in Frostbite Falls there were more TV sets than people, and the aerial view of the town showed a maze of television antennae, some houses having more than one.
One day, all the television screens went blank. The town’s folks went to the sheriff in despair crying, “Our lives are ruined!” The sheriff then led a delegation to Rocky and Bullwinkle who were considered the heroes who could solve the problems of the town.
On investigating the matter, Rocky noticed that all the antennae had mysteriously disappeared. Upon further investigation by the heroes, it was discovered that the antennae had been bitten off. The narrator then stated, “Who or what could be responsible for this catastrophe? Join us in the next episode to see who did it!”
I never got around to viewing the next episode, but a remark by the narrator stayed with me. He stated, “Since there was no television to watch, the people of Frostbite Falls went back to their old activities before the onset of the television.”
The cartoon then showed families playing board games, parents reading to their children, parents and children making craft items, sons and fathers tinkering with gadgets, mothers with daughters baking cakes and cookies, grandmothers knitting or sewing, families at prayer, and so on. My son and I chatted about that aspect of the cartoon, comparing it with the reality of the society today.
While I believe in my heart that these activities still have their place in the family circle, the question is, to what extent? During interaction with young children and adolescents, when asked about leisure activities, you receive answers like preoccupation with the cell phone and all that the device is capable of, liming in the malls, etc.
I know that many parents today are employed so that the time at home may not lend itself to activities before the advent of widespread television ownership and viewing. And so parents come from work tired, yet have to prepare for the following day.
The examination-oriented society compels our children to attend extra lessons, sometimes even on Sundays, so commitment to attending Mass takes second place to the lessons, etc. This means that finding time for family activities is a difficult task.
Yet, the importance cannot be ignored. We need to try to strike a balance or else this generation of youth will surely miss out on moral, spiritual and social values and attitudes which are necessary to ensure that the generation coming behind has a positive society to look forward to, one they can strive to be a part of.
Maybe such extracurricular activities can be embarked upon starting small at home, at school, in Youth Ministries, Sunday school classes, etc. It will take the commitment of those who can and are willing to share, teach, supervise, donate material, co-ordinate activities.
Seems daunting? Maybe. But as Black Stalin sang, “We can make it if we try, a little harder….” and for those whose dreams are similar to mine for the upliftment in all aspect of growth for our youth, Ronnie Mc Intosh advised, “Hold on tight, doh leggo, doh leggo…”