Wherever ‘Little House on the Prairie’ went, we need to go back

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What happened to “Little House on the Prairie”?

In the mid 1980s it was in the top 10 list of most watched programs. Today, it has been replaced in popularity by “Desperate Housewives.”

This is so symptomatic of our times. It seems we are focused to ensure everyone is special, no one is to blame, and when times get tough enough someone will be there to bail you out. Are these the qualities we want to embrace for our future?

Forget Wisteria Lane, Walnut Grove is looking better by the minute.

I proudly admit “Little House on the Prairie,” with “tear ducts Landon” as my father used to say, was and still is one of my favorite shows. I love it because it is a reminder of three basic things that we seem to have lost sight of these days: selfless love, accountability, and the rewards of hard work.

Personally I wish I could be more like Mrs. Ingalls.

That woman was as selfless as they came. She constantly sacrificed for the good of her family and her husband; no task was too daunting.

Yet the best part was that she did not see it as sacrifice. Everything was done out of love and the desire to make those she loved happy. She served her husband, her children and her community with dignity and respect, never expecting or requiring reciprocity. She knew how to love.

Nothing was taken for granted as a farming family in Walnut Grove. If hail knocked out your crop, there was no unemployment check waiting for you. If you were short on funds to pay the doctor, you relied on his kindness until you found a way to pay the bill, or you simply did not get the care. Guns in the home were respected as a means to hunt and defend, because in both you were on your own.

Sure, life was hard because there was no one to bail you out if you did not have the money, the food, or the wherewithal to get by. People got out of tough spots by relying on each other’s kindness and compassion.

But they certainly did not blame anyone or anything if relief did not come. That was just part of life, and death, in some cases.

Kids were expected to pull their weight in the household and work hard. They were an integral part of the family’s daily survival, and they knew it and took ownership of it. Family always came first — ahead of individual wants. Parents were respected because they demanded it. Kids sacrificed for the sake of their parents and their families, just as often as parents sacrificed for their kids.

I know we do not live in the 1880s anymore. They certainly had their challenges back then too. It is a different world, advanced in so many ways from the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder. But with all that we have achieved, our lives are no more satisfying, in fact arguably less so. Why? Can the human heart have changed that much?

I certainly do not know all the answers, but am convinced that what ails us cannot be fixed by legislation, and it cannot be fixed by taking from one and giving to another for the sake of “equality.”

There is no such thing as an “easy fix.” It has taken us generations to get to this point, and it seems ridiculous to think that by adding a few laws all will be well.

Instead, maybe we should start at the family level and embrace what really matters: love, accountability and hard work. We may be surprised how we improve as a society if we can somehow prioritize these simple things.

A lot of people thought “Little House on the Prairie” was a corny show when it was on TV years ago. However in light of how American society is evolving today, maybe more corny would do some good.

Beth Pullias

Peachtree City, Ga.