There was always a dilemma involved when watching Cronkite, part of me wanting to know what was happening in Vietnam, the other afraid of what I would learn. Walter Cronkite had all the facts, everything a young girl wanted to know; be it the current location of the Viet Kong, marches on behalf of the poor people living in shanti towns, anti-war protests, civil liberty protests, presidential politics, the evacuations of Hueys, the status of half a million U.S. troops serving in Vietnam, and the downward plunge of a bayonet. I became a humanitarian and a disciple of Jesus under Cronkite. Maybe Jesus and I could make a difference in this world? No, dad’s name wasn’t on Cronkite’s casualty list; maybe he’s okay, and then… Cronkite brought news of another war, one closer to home. First, Martin Luther King, Jr., and then within 2 months Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated.
I did not grow up in a religious home, but for some reason during my dad’s deployment my mom dropped my sister and me off at a nearby Vacation Bible School. It was there that I learned about the life and love of Jesus, that he was my friend, and the hope of the world around me. It wouldn’t be until my early teens that I would understand my even greater need for Jesus. As parents we often wonder about our world today and its impact on our children. We may try to protect and shield them from the harsh realities of conflict in an increasingly global society. But, I personally wonder if Jesus would become the “hero” he was to me then, without the stark contrast of a world on display in need of desperate hope. Is such a contrast even possible when our children have so much today? I never went to Disneyland as a child, but I did see the Redwood Forest. My first tech gadget was my very own tape cassette player, and birthday parties then included a gathering of friends around the dining table with a homemade cake. Our lives were simple, but we were content.
Consider our children’s heroes today. Do our children have an appreciation for the kindness of Jesus, his deep care for those who suffer, his compassion for the poor, and his promise of justice one day? Better yet, do our children know how much our world needs a kind hero, the very hope of the nations? What kind of “funnelvision” do children experience in today’s media mix? I’m certain my own mother had no idea of the internal processing I experienced. What thoughts do you have?