World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and Parenting – by Anissa Jones. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Over time, there has been hundreds of various myths developed by people all around the world – some of which are believed, and some are rejected. After pondering a myth that is connected to my family and my personal experience growing up, I was immediately brought back to the myth my family valued related to watching TV and blindness.
Growing up, my family was like any other typical American family. We loved being outside, cooking family dinners, and participated in many different community activities together. My two older siblings and I were involved in numerous sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, and figure skating. Even though our parents were constantly juggling the running-around-chaos, one thing was never forgotten – there was to be no more than 30 minutes of television in one sitting. Looking back now, I understand my parents’ rationale and I’m thankful for the rule they implemented. But back then, I always found myself starting another episode of my favorite TV show just to have it shut off once I hit the 30 minute mark, and asking my mom, “why only 30 minutes?!” The first few times I asked, she would just smile at me and walk away, but after I asked enough times, she responded with, “Anissa, you will go blind if you watch any longer!”
There was a method to her madness. My mother knew that there was no true connection between watching TV and going blind, but it gave her a great excuse to shut the television off and encourage me and my siblings to spend some time outside. Once I was old enough to understand, she told me the myth behind her parenting tactic. It all began back when she was a child. Ten years before my mom was born, General Electric sold color TV sets that were new and flashy – everyone wanted one, including my grandma at the time. Shortly after they were put on the market, it was discovered that they emitted a considerable amounts of radiation – “almost 100,000 times more than health officials consider safe” (You’ll go blind: does…). After my grandma found out the news, she became very weary of all televisions and believed every TV could cause someone to go blind. She had the same rule in place when it came to my mom watching TV – the only difference was that my grandma did it because she believed it could happen to my mom, not because she wanted her to participate in other activities (like playing outside). Either way, my mom and I both got the exercise we needed!
The textbook Worlds Together, Worlds Apart from Tignor et al. flashes some light on other global creation myths. One creation myth that stood out to me was a Hindu creation narrative. This narrative describes the creation of the universe by sacrifice of a creature called Purusha, or man. Purusha’s body parts began to form the world – “The moon was born from the mind, from the eye the sun was born; from the breath the wind was born” (Tignor et al., 2018, p. 5). Like the myth I discussed earlier about television and blindness, to some people, this may sound unusual. But, the importance of myths is that they bring meaning to life – whether that meaning is to get away from the TV and get exercise, or to believe that our world physically grew from a sacrificial man.
This myth, along with various creation myths discussed in Tignor’s Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, bring true light to humankind and what it means to be human. Myths give people purpose and meaning to life, and provide some explanation that people personally value of how we got to where we are today. They provoke critical thinking, and allow us to ponder who we are as individuals, and where we truly came from. Myths are a part of what makes us human.
Tignor, R. et al. (2018). Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: a History of the World (5th edition).
New York, NY: W. W. Norton Company.
You’ll go blind: does watching television close-up really harm eyesight? Retrieved from
From Professor Liang’s Spring 2019 World History I [Online] class
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