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Real quick: what would you tell your younger activist self?
Trick: do it without being a jerk, too.
I’m up in Boston right now, and yesterday I spoke at a Boston University first-year student orientation program that’s organized by students with the (unbelievably awesome) Community Service Center at the university. This orientation is specifically for new students who’ve said they’re interested in social justice, community service, that sort of thing. And they invited me to speak about how to think about self-care when you care for the world! SO THRILLED. (It was a longer version of the Graphic Medicine talk I gave in July, for anyone interested.)
Anyhoooooooo, I always love hanging out with The Youth™ because the questions they ask, and the stories they share, always show me something really gorgeous and brilliant about the state of the world. The kids are truly alright. And sometimes they ask questions that are too long for me to answer in the short time we have together, and I’ve been thinking about the last question I got. (I don’t know if the student wants to be named, but in case you’re reading this, hey homie! Still thinkin’ about you!)
They were struggling with feeling overwhelmed and discouraged about the state of the world. I mean, the planet is actually on fire, and I can’t blame them. But I remember feeling that pain so acutely, too, and I’m trying to think of things or people that soothed it or helped me reframe it. But it can get condescending real quick, you know? It’s like when I was first working on what became The Weather Report with my friend Vu. We were were talking about the “It Gets Better” campaign, and how good its intentions were (and yes, Tim Gunn’s story made me cry), but how we felt they had missed the mark a bit. Vu said, “I mean, that’s great, it gets better… but things suck now.”
So, how would you help frame the long arc of justice for someone who’s just getting going?
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