Humans love boundaries. We will make them out of anything, or nothing. And we get freaky when boundaries are broken. Someone cutting in line, or jumping on stage during a performance, or wandering into our back yard. This freaks us out, often rightly so.
Boundaries help us be safe and organized and polite. But we also put them there without even thinking about it. Those careless ones are the boundaries that really bother me. The ones where nobody considered whether it should be there in the first place.
The boundary that bothers me the most is, the one where we just decide whether or not certain people should be noticed or listened to. We do this all the time. We toss people away, even little kids, just because.
This has two effects: There’s us not listening, but then there’s people not learning to speak either. And let’s face it, to get listened to you need to learn to speak. And persuade. You see the vicious circle here.
I just sent a batch of “You Should Make A Comic” zines to some kids in Redding, California. A few great folks kicked in a bit to cover printing and postage costs, so the zines are free to the kids. These are the first part of a process called, “Find people who don’t get listened to and encourage them to say something, then listen to them, and encourage them to speak more.” I’m encouraging young people to make a comic. It’s up to them what they make. I just want them to use their voice in some way.
When we speak we take what’s in our heads and put it into a form that others can see. Then they react, then we react, and so on. If we’re good at this, terrific things happen.
But we tend only to listen to people who are “important,” or who are in “media,” or who look and sound like us.
So here’s an idea: Find someone you would not normally listen to, and go listen to them. Maybe they are from somewhere else, or go to a different school, or they are a different age. Doesn’t matter. This isn’t about some vast intergalactic initiative. It’s just — something to do.
The “You Should Make A Comic” zine is available as a wee Drooly Dog fundraiser to keep the free stuff going to young people. You can get your own copy here:
And… I’ll let you know what kinds of comics or drawings these kids come up with. I’m looking forward to hearing them and I hope you are too.