Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Andy Griffith Show - "Opie the Birdman" (1963)

All the Andy Griffith shows are like treasures to me. They harken back to a simpler time, when there were lines not to be crossed. Though things were far from perfect in many respects, sometimes it’s still easy to long for the sepia toned days of our not too distant past. But the entire myriad of social issues aside, there was more of a civility in the air of the times. Even the struggles for Civil Rights were tangible evidence that, for the most part, people were at least trying to get in touch with their “better angels.” Contrasted with today’s sharply divided nation, those times were less complex, and we could at least imagine a way forward.
This first episode from the 1963 season of “The Andy Griffith Show” addresses responsibility, a word which is rapidly disappearing from our vocabulary. After getting a slingshot; which was every young man’s dream back in the “old days”; Opie is at first content with shooting tin cans and other inanimate objects. But soon he sets his sights on a bird in the tree in front of his house, and without thinking about the consequences of his action, kills it. He is heartbroken and filled with guilt and shame. The chirping of the baby birds; who are unable to fly yet; as they await the return of their mother to feed them, eats away at him.

Andy; in his usual calm way; let’s the boy feel the pain he has caused and makes him provide for the baby birds until they can fly on their own. When the time comes to let them go, Opie has learned several lessons from his transgression. Beginning at the 19 minute mark, Andy explains to Opie about letting go. And that’s something we all have to learn how to do at some point.

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