Remember that old adage, "little things mean a lot"?
As I see it, this saying is true in two ways.
First, it means the little, no-cost things we do that can make another person's day: a smile in the middle of rush hour, a door held open when your arms are full, a friendly voice on the phone during a routine business call.
Second, there is a tip-of-the-iceburg sort of connotation. There might be a little thing on the surface, but there is big, Titanic-sinking thing underneath.
I think Mitt Romeny's comment about PBS, Jim Lerher, and Big Bird during the Presidental debate last Wednesday was one of those Titanic-sinking little things.
It's been fun and games, with Big Bird dolls on newscasters desks, the "SaveBigBird" hashtag on Twitter, T-shirts and posters like the "help" parody of the famous "hope" poster on Huffington Post. It is all funny precisely because we know Big Bird isn't in any real, existential danger at the moment. It's a little thing.
But something big lies beneath.
Think about it. What does it say about a man when the first specific budget reduction to spring to his mind and out of his mouth is to eliminate an educatational resource and a much beloved children's icon? He talks easily about the military budget, but says nothing of the people serving or the lives lost in an ongoing war. Little comments, little nuances, little things, yes - but they mean a lot. These little things speak volumes about what's important to this candidate and those who support him. Even if it isn't intentional, it is symbolic. Whatever his personal convictions may be, Mitt Romeny's Big Bird comment symbolizes the collective mind-set of his party and sets a tone of greed and selfishness. No wonder it created such a strong popular reaction. It reminds me more of a comic book super-villan than a real-world leader.
On the other hand, what does Big Bird symbolize? I think of innocence, sincerity, kindness, learning, reading. What sane person doesn't support that? Couldn't Mr. Romney, at the very least, pretend to support Big Bird...not pledge to eliminate him faster than you can say COOKIE?
It's all become a comedy of the absurd. True, Big Bird may not need to be saved...but he does need protected from greedy, bitter partisan politics. Not only do we need to literally protect education, libraries, public television and the like, but also protect the things Big Bird symbolizes to everyone under the age of 50.
It all kind of makes you the superhero doesn't it?
Protect Big Bird from the likes of Lex Luthor, Mitt Romeny, or whatever other league of political villians might be out there. Whatever your political leaning, can you at least be pro-Big-Bird? Donate to our local libraries. Donate to public broadcasting. Help someone with something. Get a teddy bear. Have some milk and cookies (birdseed optional). Read to your children. Have your children read to you. Hug your kids. Be yellow. Be green. Just give a little fun and kindness to life. Big Bird does.