…Charlie Brown.” During the past five decades, those words have become ‘household words’ to millions of Americans. From the largest cities to smallest of hamlets, people have learned to negotiate life’s stressors in part by identifying with the characters created in the mind of Charles Schulz.

His Peanuts comic strip has been widely regarded as one of the most popular strips of all time! And now, just prior to it’s fiftieth birthday, Peanuts will be no more. It’s going the route traveled by most “good things”: It’s coming to an end.
Undoubtedly, this will sadden the hearts of many loyal followers. The question one might ask is, “Why?” After all, it’s only a comic strip, right?
What has accounted for the immense popularity of this comic strip is the process by which it’s readers have identified with the characters. To many people, those characters actually come to life with each new episode. They not only come to life, -- they are “life” for the avid followers. This magic is called, “identification.” It is the process by which children learn to model behaviors of adults: heroes, villains or fools. And it is at times the process through which adults learn to resolve conflict.
In many cases, the characters represent the self-esteem of the individual reading the strip. During the course of our lives, we come fact to face with our limitations while attempting to achieve various outcomes. Our self-esteem, the belief that we can consistently perform with exquisite elegance to achieve maximal success from our behavior and communication, is largely a function of our ability to actually be resourceful in the presence of adversity.
Who hasn’t felt like “Charlie Brown” on occasion? Inept, a ‘loser’, yet challenged to get it right. Who hasn’t imagined the ability to rise above the chaos of his life and utilize fantasy to take charge like “Snoopy?” Or come across with glib answers and advice that rings true like “Lucy.” These characters have virtually become heroes to their many readers. The hero becomes a symbol through which people identify strongly. And obviously, they are not always winners. Like the Brooklyn Dodgers of Old, or the New York Mets of more recent times, they carry us through the good times and bad. And there is a certain aire of confidence about us when our heroes come through. More importantly, the bond created between people and their heroes is self-enhancing. One which recognizes and reinforces the importance of working hard in striving toward a goal, despite not always achieving success.
And all who have experienced the pain of losing, the sweet scent of success or the taste of self-righteousness will feel a pang of loss January 5 th 2000 when the final episode of Peanuts is published. The final chapter in the “lives” of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and Snoopy. But those individuals may take solace in the fact that while the strip will end, the characters will not. For to casually dismiss them is to dismiss ourselves. The joy, the anticipation, the relief and amusement these characters have brought into the lives of millions of readers over the years will become fond memories; “reruns” to be replayed again and again. Ahh…music to our ears, right, Schroeder?