February 7, 2002
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
8pm. "Do you wanna meet Jen's shut-in brothers?" Christina asked me as she got out of the van to deliver a drawing to help cheer up her friend who had just gotten teeth pulled. They had collaborated on the art work many years ago. It was a sketch of a classmate living in a cardboard box on the street.
The culture shock would have been even more intense if I wasn't prepared, but at times, it was enough to leave me speechless in awe of this particular branch of human evolution. Jen's two brothers were sitting in dark, focused on a violent video game controlled by the older brother. The graphics were fantastic. A lot has changed since Space Invaders. I sat down on the couch and gave a friendly "hello." The little boy, approximately 8 years old, returned with a spastic comment that didn't make sense. The older kid, middle school age, didn't respond at all. When I asked him a question, his attitude was along the lines of... "Why are you speaking to me. Isn't it obvious I have nothing to say to you?!!" I couldn't understand how someone could be so competely void of social skills that they wouldn't even attempt to speak.
I wish I had my note pad to record what was said during the visit. It was a prime case study on the effects of minimal interaction between family members. I don't know if there is deep rooted problem, or if it was cumulative, so that minor issues gone unresolved have built up to become huge mental barriers blocking communication. Maybe they were just tired of being hurt and preferred to stay quiet, cuz everything said was permeated with sarcasm or plain insulting.
TV and video games are an easy escape-- a diversion from facing reality. The TV screen is a like vortex sucking everyone's attention. Like flies, our eyes are captivated by the bright colorful flashing light, and the loud blatting noise drowns conversation, turning everyone in the proximity into silent, motionless zombies.
Their father works night shift and tries to sleep during the day, but three kids don't allow for a quiet house, so he's often tired. I offered to take him and kids on an afternoon canoe trip to see the harbor seals on the shag rocks, a short paddle off Bay Shore Beach. "Can't do it with this bad back," he answered, "...and I doubt the kids would want to go. I don't know why, they just don't like going outside."
The little boy was craving attention. When he understood that I was genuinely interested in him, he quit the wild out-bursts and calmed down. I told him that I liked capturing images, so I shot a few, then showed them to him. He especially liked the one with shadows on the wall that appeared to be a face, like in a Salvador Dali painting. He showed me how he likes to draw, and created a man with a missile launcher on his arm.
Superman and Spiderman are both journalists. I've never read anything they wrote, but they must have a lot to offer from their experiences with exotic characters and vast perspectives from hanging out high above city life. It's also cool that they don't carry guns. I want to be like that. I want parents to send me on missions to rescue their children who are suicidal or just bored out of their skull. I want to take on the challenge of instilling zeal in the lives of those feeling oppressed by the school system, and take drug addicts enslaved to their habits on FAR OUT trips.
I've played war all my life. I started by creating battle scenes with GI Joe figures, then I played mock wars in the forest with friends. At age 12, I joined the army cadets and stayed in until I was nearly 17. Since then, rock climbing and sea kayaking have been like fighting personal battles within myself. I like the challenge and adventure of dangerous situations. I'm not interested in violence; it's about being on a mission. I'm a missionary warrior, intent on forming an army of peaceful activists armed with tools and musical instruments, and shooting documentaries to inspire the next generation of revolutionaries.
Our society is obsessed with war. We are taught it in school and it is always on TV-- either on the History channel, in cartons, drama, or world news. What's the fighting for... greed? Control? Cheap oil? Good biz for weapons manufactures? CBC News said that Bush wants to increase US military spending to over 400 billion a year. The US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency says the US currently spends $276 billion yearly. China spends $75 billion, Russia and France spend $42, and Japan $41. According to Forbes Magazine, The USA is home to 274 billionaires. Everyone on the planet could be fed, but instead, the rich rather protect themselves.
Trash on TV and trash at the corner store. Everything this is colorful, sweet or salty, and packaged in plastic. Truely, I've never known evil. Once I thought my girl friend was a demon, but it was likely just in my head. I don't know about a Dark Side. "They" are whoever we give our power to.