Ode To Television
Courtesy of Rabbi Kalman Packouz of Aish HaTorah
When I was once in Singapore, I read an article in the Straits Times, dateline India, about a curious incident. It seems that there was an explosion in the street near an apartment complex. Almost all of the residents rushed to their windows to see what caused the explosion. Down below were the remains of a television set and one of their neighbors was shouting "Enough is enough, I am sick of the garbage on television." Shortly thereafter there was a series of explosions as the neighbors followed suit ... pitching their televisions from their windows.
An inmate in a Florida prison, convicted murderer Douglas Jackson, filed suit because he did not have PBS, only regular TV. His complaint, though frivolous, contains an element of truth: How was he supposed to get rehabilitated if all he saw on TV was "murder, rape, nudity, profanity and the like?"
Evidently, more and more parents are having similar feelings about television. Rarely a week goes by without parents telling me they have greatly restricted television watching for themselves and their children -- or have gotten rid of the TV.
I thought you might enjoy-- perhaps even benefit from -- the following poem, entitled
by Roald Dahl
From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've seen
We've watched them gaping at the screen,
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit,
Until they're hypnotized by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill.
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch --
And wash the dishes in the sink.
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND!
So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books, ignoring all the dirty looks.
Fear not, because we promise you, that in about a week or two,
Of having nothing else to do, they'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read. And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy that fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen,
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen in that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean, repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid will love you more for what you did.
Recently my neighbors asked me how I was dealing with my kids nightmares in the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Towers. My neighbor assumed that everyone's kids were having nightmares like their kids. I was surprised by the question because my kids weren't having nightmares. Then it hit me ... her kids were watching the crumbling of the World Trade Towers every minute and a half all day long and my kids only saw a 15 minute video of the coverage. The visual reinforcement is enough to give anyone nightmares.
There are websites to help control TV watching or wean from it. http://www.aap.org/family/tv1.htm has a report on "Television and the Family" with some ideas on controlling TV watching for kids. Any step youtake to control, minimize or eliminate TV watching can only be a benefit to you, your family and your kids!