There is one fictional character that has had a lot of influence in my life that isn’t one that anyone else is likely to have heard of. Her name is Annie and she’s the heroine in a series of stories my dad has developed over the course of the last 25 to 30 years.
I first met Annie when she decided to make some chocolate chip cookies to help her sick cousin feel better. I became better acquainted with her as a person who was a little bit adventurous (as children in the 90’s were allowed to do without their parents being reported) but also had great respect for the natural world when she ventured out into a mountain meadow and met some deer that she fed popcorn too. I understand she developed considerably as a person after I outgrew bedtime stories (why!?) and she continues to be a person I would like to get to know.
My parents taught me, through Annie and other avenues, that being kind meant more than “just”, well, not being mean. Being kind meant thinking about the needs of others and respecting everything around you, and that included the natural world. Annie herself, as a fictional character, taught me that the people we can relate to are the best characters. While backstory and developing why a character might be motivated to do something is important and helpful, it can also be soothing to know someone (and at this exact moment in time Fred Rogers is springing to mind) that is kind to others just because that’s exactly how they were born.