I walked into my family's living room the other day to find my sister sitting on the couch watching old School House Rock videos. This was not surprising, as we grew up on public television, having only five channels to watch. Now that the famous series is on DVD, we can get our cheesy grammar/math/science fix whenever the mood strikes. The episode I happened to catch was "The Energy Blues," featuring the famous crooning of Jack Sheldon, the well-known tenor voice behind many of the episodes, as the voice of the Earth, speaking out about the gluttonous use of oil and coal and offering energy alternatives. It was only when I realized that this episode was made in 1978 that I was taken aback: kids 31 years ago were being made aware of the dangers that petroleum and coal-based energy posed to our planet, and even the alternative options to them.
Also a fond part of my childhood was a well-used cassette tape entitled "For Our Children." It was originally released by Disney in 1991 as a fundraiser for children with AIDS. It featured such famous artists as Bob Dylan and Bette Midler singing classic children's songs like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as well as some lesser-known tracks. The first track on the tape was by Ziggy Marley and was titled "Give a Little Love." The song is heartwarming and even rallying, suggesting that if everyone came together, we could all make the world a better place. It is a song about peace, love, harmony and unity. What more could you ask for to begin a best-selling children's cassette tape? The chorus lyrics are an anthem that make it truly hard to not sing along:
"We've got to give a little love, have a little hope
Make this world a little better
Try a little more, harder than before
Let's see what we can do together."
To round out the trip down memory media lane, I now turn to books. I was asked during my last year of high school if I could use my talents as an intelligent, dignified leader to help kick off our school system's primary school's Scholastic Reader's Week. Of course, I agreed happily. I was then thrust into a seven-foot-tall "Cat in the Hat" suit and instructed to walk around the gymnasium, high-fiving, hugging and terrifying young children as I navigated through my peep-hole in the cat's neck. When the assembly was called to order and I was able to rest, I enjoyed, along with the children, a reading by the school's principal. I must say that she had good taste. The story began, "At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows and no birds ever sing excepting old crows ... is the Street of the Lifted Lorax."
Yes, most of you have caught on now. She read aloud Dr. Seuss's classic, The Lorax. If you are not already familiar, the story is about the Lorax who lives in a forest and is quite happy among the Truffala trees until one day a man comes around and begins to chop the trees down. The story basically continues in the typical fashion following the effects of deforestation. The Lorax then speaks for the trees and describes the horrible destruction caused by the logging, and the forest is eventually restored. It is a fantastic story, and a great one for a young generation to hear, as it is both interesting (come on, who doesn't want to see a Truffala tree?!) and true.
And so I leave you at the end of memory lane with the advice of the Lorax: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."