By Joey Amato
Everyone’s family structure is different. The world needs all kinds of people and all kinds of love. Big World, Little Om is a multi-faceted project with a single goal: to celebrate family diversity.
Using books and animated shows to teach children about diversity, understanding, and compassion, this series highlights the reality of family diversity. It reveals that we don’t need to fight or argue over our differences, or even try to change them; rather, we can accept what makes us special in order to live more free, cooperative lives.
Every day, children are flooded with false images of masculinity and femininity. They’re taught to live in the illusion that money is power, brute strength always wins, and the most manipulative woman is also the most attractive. These are all qualities that create harm.
Now is the time to raise a generation that learns to cooperate instead of compete, care instead of manipulate. Just as kids are speaking out about gun violence, they’re also fed up with messages of hate, greed, and violence. They’re hungry to learn ways to communicate, to work together, and to make the changes that will, literally, save humanity from itself.
The market is severely lacking in messages of cooperation and compassion. We’re going to expose children to those character qualities through this project and saturate the market with these values. By creating that continuity of messaging, we can help the next generations to feel less confused, more grounded, and more capable of clear, honest, and helpful communication.
The name “Om” represents a sound associated with mindfulness. Om, the character, is a very mindful boy. He’s aware of diversity and struggles to comprehend these differences, though he doesn’t “react” in the way that most characters do in books and on TV. He uses his imagination to confront issues rather than run from them; he uses kindness and compassion to diffuse tension and awaken understanding in others.
Just as the sound, “om,” is used to concentrate on a single sound, the character, Om, will teach children to concentrate on compassion and understanding.
Through the series, Little Om will look at different communities through innocent eyes. As a child who isn’t influenced by prejudice and hate, he only knows love. He will ask questions and then ask more questions as he tries to understand the world around him.
The characters will experience real-world situations, such as having two mothers or fathers, gender identity questions, parental separation, and more. The characters will model effective and appropriate responses to those situations rather than follow the status quo of current media. Om, for example, will use his imagination to cope with challenges instead of using it to escape from life’s most difficult changes.
“I was in a same-sex relationship for nine beautiful years,” says book author Mera Malik. “Our relationship ended not for any lack of love, but because she could no longer handle the discrimination she faced in her community or the disapproval of her family. Our child lost one of his moms and no doubt was confused by the whole situation. All he knew was the two of us and the love that was our family. I don’t want that to happen to any other family or child.”
Malik says that the world she wants to live in and raise children in doesn’t discriminate when it comes to love or family; a world where everyone’s story has power and importance, where hearts and character are more important than skin color and gender. She believes that begins through representation and community building.
Om the Enchanted, Big World, Little Om will be a show dedicated to showing how wonderful – but sometimes challenging – the lives are for unique families.
“It can be a child who has a disability, a refugee family,” she says, “I’m not excluding anyone. I want these kids to see themselves on media in a positive, uplifting way.”
More info can be found on bigworldlittleom.com.