Animated World.

My daughter watches a lot of—perhaps too much—animated television programming. The total hours per day is probably 1 to 2, which isn’t a lot. It does add up when you calculate it out in terms of days, weeks, months, and years and you realize that a child’s education in large part comes from animated creatures, mostly animals, that speak, feel, act, think, react, cry, laugh and interact constantly. You know the names—Binoo and Barney and Bear and Beaver. You might worry, like many researchers and parents do constantly, that your child is being exposed to a bombardment of commercially acceptable imagery, that a young mind is being transformed by business practices that seek to motivate children to act in ways their shareholders prefer. And many do, as do I.
But there’s another side to this, a spiritually significant side to animated televisuals that often gets unmentioned and unnoticed. It’s that the animals, persons, and creatures depicted in these animated features are alive—truly and utterly alive. They speak, feel, act, think, react, cry, laugh, and interact constantly. They live in an emotionally sensitive world where things happen (sometimes not nice things) and they must live to work through and around those things. Hives fall from trees and bees chase animals around the forest. A character finds jobs for other characters as part of a class assignment but worries that he’s not doing a real job in turn. A cloud falls from the heavens and someone (maybe a chicken) says that the sky is falling.
Moreover, these characters are not just alive. They also live, just like all things do in a child’s world. From what I remember as a child, every object is living, every thing has a feeling, every animal can give off feelings. I remember, when I was maybe only 5 or 6 years old, feeling badly when I threw something out—a piece of paper, for instance. A sadness would come over me that that object would no longer live and be part of my daily observations. I never wanted to hurt anyone or anything’s feelings; this was a sensitivity of a living child amazed to be in life. I worried about what would happen to that piece of paper and how it would feel that I pushed it out of my world.
Today, when walking home from the supermarket, I asked my daughter which house she liked more, ours or that of our neighbors. She said she liked both. I asked her why and she replied that she didn’t want one of the houses to feel bad. I agree with her. Making decisions and opinions is always hard but, when one puts up the light of an animated world against one’s daily practices, they become harder.