Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Keys - How to Live in Mayberry Today (1/5)

The 1960s was a decade marked by civil rights battles, the sexual revolution, an increase in drug experimentation, and the Vietnam War; yet one of the most popular TV shows in those days – The Andy Griffith Show (TAGS) – reminded people of a simpler way of life. Week after week, Americans tuned in and journeyed to a place where folks genuinely loved and looked after each other. “Mayberry” may have been a fictional town, but for many, it was the place they longed to call home.

From its debut in 1960 until it went off the air eight seasons later, TAGS was consistently among the highest rated shows on TV, and it has aired continuously in reruns ever since. Part of the reason for the show’s longevity is that the lovable characters seem real. Most viewers can think of real life examples of Aunt Bee or Floyd the Barber – maybe you can even see a little bit of Barney in one of your friends or hopefully a little bit of Andy in yourself! Another reason the show has endured is because it's family entertainment that teaches family values. Sure, Otis gets drunk on a regular basis and Andy gets grumpy from time to time, but you'll never hear them cuss or make sarcastic insults at the expense of others, the good guys always win, and you're virtually guaranteed to end every episode feeling happier than when it began!

I’ve often heard people say how life would be better if we could all just live in Mayberry, and I’m inclined to agree. But I would also say that you CAN live in Mayberry today, if you want!

How is that possible?!

No, I’m not saying you should move your family to Mt. Airy, NC (Andy Griffith’s hometown, which many believe was the inspiration for Mayberry on the show). And no, you don’t have to give in to delusions and just pretend that everything is fine when it’s really not...

When I talk about “living in Mayberry”, I don’t mean you act like we’re in the 1960s. I mean you choose to live and act the way people did on the show, and you invite others – by your conduct – to follow you into a brighter future! According to George Lindsay, who played Goober in the series, "One of the incredible things about every single episode is that Andy insisted each show have a moral point - something good, lofty and moral. It’s a shame current shows on TV don’t adopt that high road." (source:

I believe you can bring a little Mayberry into your life and the lives of those around you simply by choosing to live by some of the standards depicted on The Andy Griffith Show.

So what are the keys to living in Mayberry? I've come up with my Top 5, and I'll cover the first one today...

1. Live with Grace

One of the big paradoxes on TAGS was that Andy Taylor was the sheriff – sworn to uphold the law – and yet he often chose not to live up to the letter of the law. This is a recurring theme on the show. We see it, for instance, in the Christmas episode, when Andy says that the jail is sort of like a school and the prisoners are sort of like pupils. Everyone knows that in a school, the pupils get a break to spend Christmas with their families, so Andy sees nothing wrong with sending the prisoners home for a few days and letting them come back after the holiday to finish their sentences. There’s a similar moment in another episode, when Andy lets a prisoner out to work his farm for a few days, in direct disobedience to the mayor’s orders. Andy explains there that it’s not fair to ruin the rest of the farmer’s life when punishing him for one mistake. “Living with Grace” means treating people kindly, even if they rightfully deserve worse. Choosing to forgive someone who has hurt you – this is living with grace. Choosing to help someone who can’t pay you back – this is grace. Giving someone a second chance... Showing mercy...

Some might say Andy was breaking the law, but Andy didn’t see it that way. There’s a wonderful scene where Andy explains this to his son, Opie, in an episode called “Runaway Kid”. Andy says:
“Suppose there was a little lake, and there was a sign on it saying, ‘No swimming allowed.’ Now that’s a law, and a law is pretty much the same thing as a rule, ain’t that right? Well, now, suppose there was a little boy, and he broke that law and went swimming anyway and started to drown. Now, suppose there was a fellow standing there watching. Now, should he obey the law and let that little boy drown, or should he break the law and save the little boy?”
Of course, Opie answers that the man couldn’t let the little boy drown, so Andy finishes up:
“You see, son, rules are a very important thing, but sometimes they seem to get in the way when we’re trying to help somebody, so what we do in a case like that – we don’t exactly break them – we just bend them a little bit.”
Living with grace didn't always
come natural to Barney Fife!
Andy’s not advocating that we just do whatever we want and totally disregard the law, but he’s reminding us to live with grace. Andy wants Opie and us to understand that while structure is important, the person is more important. If you see someone on the wrong path, it’s always better to help them than to just let them continue down the wrong path!

Maybe this sounds difficult to live up to at first. That’s OK. It was hard for Barney to get used to the idea, too! Deputy Fife believed in keeping the rules strictly, so living with grace was difficult for him, but with time, he at least began to understand it. If you choose to think about it regularly, with a little help from Above, you can begin to make changes in your attitude and the way you treat others!

One of my favorite serious moments comes in the episode “Andy on Trial”. Barney has to defend Andy’s way of doing things at a hearing meant to decide whether or not Andy is fit to be sheriff. Mr. Milton, the prosecuting attorney, used words Barney said previously (to an undercover reporter) to paint Andy in a bad light, but Barney insists that he have an opportunity to set the record straight before stepping down from the witness stand. He says:
“You ask me if Andy runs a ‘taut ship’, Mr. Milton. Well, no he don’t, but that’s because of something he’s been trying to teach me ever since I started working for him, and that is, ‘When you’re a lawman and you’re dealing with people, you do a whole lot better if you go not so much by the book, but by the heart.’ I guess that’s kind of hard for some of you to understand, I don’t know.”
Wouldn’t life be a whole lot easier if we all just learned this one principle? Love your neighbor. Be tender-hearted. Give people a second chance. Forgive. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated… Or to put it simply, live with grace!

But living this way is not easy at all unless you learn to use the second key...

CLICK HERE to see what it is!


  1. Great article and a good lesson to learn. I never tire of watching the show.

    1. Me neither. Even though I've probably seen every episode hundreds of times, I still love to watch it over and over! :)

  2. Awesome read and truth!


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