You’ve probably never heard of Robert Pittman. He’s a 67-year-old American businessman who was one of the founders of MTV, the first cable music television network in the United States. MTV was launched on August 1, 1981, and initially featured music videos and related programming that was presented by television celebrities who were known as VJs (video jockeys).
When I was growing up, it didn’t happen very often, but every time there was a tornado warning, my dad would go outside and look toward the horizon where the tornado was supposed to be coming from. He wanted to see with his own eyes whether a funnel cloud was coming toward our house. There were a couple of occasions when everyone in our family went downstairs and stayed in the basement until it was safe to come up.
When I was 11 years old, every Friday my dad made me write a personal letter to a woman he hardly knew. The woman’s name was Miss Miller, and she was my sixth-grade teacher at St. Mark Catholic Grade School. I don’t remember if it was her idea or his idea. All I remember is that after she called him on the phone a few times to complain about my behavior in class, they developed a scheme in which I was forced to write the following letter on a blank sheet of paper every week:
The recent riots have exposed a reality that those of us who are devout Catholics have always known to be true. What is that reality? That there is an epic battle that has been taking place since the beginning of time. While the battle has involved different types of weapons and different forms of communication, the participants in the battle have always had one thing in common — they have always been separated into two opposing camps.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in the early years of television. As a young boy, I watched westerns and wholesome family shows that always depicted clean, positive, and virtuous behavior. Some of the family shows that I watched were The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mister Ed.
I’ve written before about how my wife and I raised seven children — one boy and six girls. An interesting thing happened with some of my children. When they turned 18, they got tired of me telling them what I thought they should be doing and declared that because they were 18, they were now adults who could make their own decisions. The first time I heard that proclamation, I laughed and asked what happened on their 18th birthday that transformed them into the type of person who no longer needed to listen to their parents. The response I got was, “I’m an adult now and I’m old enough to make my own decisions.”