My characterization of America’s Founding Fathers is lifted more or less from the 1972 film version of the musical 1776, a rollicking reenactment of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. (I have not yet seen Hamilton, but I have had parts of the score sung at me when I least expected it.) I always think of Benjamin Franklin as being the kind of guy who could really show you a good time. He’s definitely the one out of the bunch you’d want to sit down and have a beer with. He was known as something of a lady’s man, too. The phrase “obnoxious and disliked” is used in reference to John Adams over and over again. Sometimes, you have to be obnoxious and disliked to get things done.
To be fair, the TV station must have figured out their mistake because they appear to have added 2 women talking to the clip and cut out 2/3 of my friend’s interview by the time I wrote this comic. But we had a good laugh about it Saturday night, my friend being the first to point out the irony/institutionalized sexism. Also to be fair, my friend is a very cool white guy, and very well-spoken. But there were a LOT of other voices KGUN9 might have chosen to air.
A lot of people’s favorite sign on the internet seemed to be the one that read, “So bad even introverts are here,” and that really resonated with me. I have strong beliefs, but I find social action terrifying. Even calling my representatives fills me with dread, but the last few weeks have inspired me to take more a participatory approach. I did call my senators, and emailed them, and had a letter I wrote (printed on paper and signed) hand-delivered to my congressperson. And I forced myself to get up and march, even though contemplating the act was nerve wracking and anxiety provoking. And I ended up having what I’d consider, under any other circumstance, a really unflattering, and somewhat misleading picture of myself circulated to 10s of 1000s of people because for a split second I looked the part, even if, for 25 years, I haven’t really acted it. I mean, I write, I talk, I educate individual people here and there who seem receptive to opening their minds, but there are so many folks who have consistently done so much more. I admire them, but I don’t know how to force myself to act like them.
I am a lot more comfortable behind my keyboard. Today I was invited to this National Write Out action, with the theme “What’s worth fighting for is worth writing for.” But, of course, that’s all backward. Writing is easy. Going out and making noise is hard. Still, if someone wants me to hashtag something for the good of humanity, it’s almost the least I can do.
Look what I made while I was almost too depressed to stand up! Except for the placement of the attribution it’s almost perfect. Good thing the “ALL” is in caps. It sort of mitigates some of the bitter sentiment here. We should all be happy. There’s plenty of stuff for everyone. I’m sure of that.
The quote–or poem, rather, as this is a poem in its entirety–comes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I didn’t remember it from my childhood, but came across it in my copy of the book, which the Girl was reading for her English class poetry unit. That’s the whole sentiment. My copy of the book belonged to my mother as a child. She wrote her name and address on the frontispiece when she was a little girl. So that’s wholly sentimental.
The black letters are based on the Minya Nouvelle Regular typewriter-style font. The other letters are, of course, of my own devising. The chalkboard letters were created by hand-tearing each letter rather than cutting.
This piece took about 4 days, working an average of 2 1/2 hours a day. I hope it doesn’t blow away like the last one did.
American public schools are structural inequality in motion. Rich kids go to well-funded institutions, and they attend prepared to learn. Many poor children don’t have that option. Here’s the source: One Answer to School Attendance: Washing Machines. We live in a world where little kids miss out on whatever advantages might be available to them because they’re afraid other kids will make fun of their clothes. And some people are OK with this. The solution is so simple, but society doesn’t consider clean clothes the right of poor children, apparently.
But some people do care.
Anyway, I felt like that story needed a little boost.
Earlier this week someone made an interesting comment about civil rights that I tried to spin into an MLK Day comic, but every script I wrote sounded tongue-in-cheek or off topic so I decided not to chance it today. For now, I have standard boilerplate for Martin Luther King’s birthday, which I used to tell my students when I taught college freshman. I would basically suggest to them that, on their day off, they make a good faith attempt to increase the overall level of tolerance, equality, and love on the planet, and, if they couldn’t manage that, to at least stay inside and not to talk to anyone so they wouldn’t make the situation any worse.
In fact, a lot of years I choose the second option myself.
People can be very hard to love sometimes.
Reddit has been a real mixed blessing for me; my traffic has increased tenfold since I’ve been there, but part of promoting your work on Redding involves being part of the community on Reddit, and a lot of being part of the community on Reddit involves dealing with people who use their anonymity to express massive bigotry, the kind of thing that most people don’t say out loud anymore because they know it’s not OK. But it’s apparently very OK in certain forums. It’s certainly the only arena in my life where I know I will be castigated for espousing a feminist viewpoint.
So, while I like to believe in the overall goodness of humanity and the concept that most people are basically decent, it’s hard to talk myself into that in an election year, when I can see that there are thousands and thousands of people who feel personally threatened by the concepts of tolerance, equality, and love.
It’s too bad, because we could be living in paradise right here, right now. It would be so easy. That’s really all that any civil rights activist is saying: let’s not hurt each other. Let’s just allow everyone the same rights and freedom we want for ourselves. It’s nicer that way.
It’s weird to me that it’s so hard.
Instead of my off-kilter and possibly offensive take on freedom and equality, I started a much sillier comic. “It’s probably stupid and not funny,” I told The Man, and then I showed the sketch to him, and he said it was very funny. So, possibly, tomorrow you’ll laugh, if you read this page tomorrow, and also if you have a sense a humor that’s similar to mine or The Man’s, and, of course, if life flows smoothly enough that the comic gets finished and uploaded before that. The Rabbit used to say, “Man plans; God laughs.” But we don’t really have much choice but to keep planning.