Okay, maybe not literally, but in my imagination I was a resident of Sesame Street, a place where puppets and people were equals, where race and colour of skin didn’t even seem to register with anyone and where the sun chased the clouds away.Oh, there were challenges on Sesame Street. After all, Oscar the Grouch lived in a garbage can and was clearly the surly neighbour, but everyone was still fond of him because, well, that was just Oscar. Cookie Monster clearly had a substance abuse problem and The Count was unable to control his obsessive-compulsive counting. Big Bird wasn’t the brightest despite his brilliant yellow plumage, and on occasion there was conflict between the characters.
But there was a sense of community, a neighbourhood feeling that transcended the differences. They were all essential parts of Sesame Street.When I was in Grade Ten Mr. Hooper, a long-time fixture on the street, passed away. Instead of shying away from the topic they wove his death into the story, and I recall watching that episode even though I had mostly outgrown Sesame Street by then. A beloved neighbour had died, and Sesame Street was grieving.
In a recent post I wrote about a note left on my car, one that was far from neighbourly and that spoke to a darker side of our human tendencies to be possessive and territorial. Since I wrote that post I have been deluged with emails and messages containing similar stories, of notes left on cars and in mailboxes, and of far, far worse behaviour.
I received emails from those who are afraid of their neighbours. The messages came from all over our country, with some even coming from the United States.
Sometime in the last few decades we moved away from Sesame Street. The gentle camaraderie of neighbours, the backyard barbecues and front porch coffees ended and were replaced it seems by flashing computer screens as we develop pseudo-communities with people we will likely never even meet.We lost the map to Sesame Street. There are still places where it exists, I think, but I am hearing far too many stories of places where it is gone, and maybe forever. I believe we can still find it, map a path back to the magic of Sesame Street and reclaim our neighbourhoods.
So friends, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?