Pout Pout

Sometimes I have internal conflict over my desires and needs and those of the young people I spend my time with. I so desperately want the young people I work with to rise up and overthrow… everything. And most of the time… they do not. And the fact that I do not insist or do anything about it, as painful as it may be at times, is my legitimacy that what we are doing is Self-Directed Education. It is also our rebellion.

Today was the last day of the Extinction Rebellion Global Rebellion week of protests. It included protests by youth such as sixteen year old Nathaniel Walcott, a former young person from Brooklyn Apple Academy who super glued his feet to a boat in Times Square in protest of climate change. I so desperately wanted our group to be a part of this action. This morning I suggested we at least participate in the Non-Violent Direct Action training that was being offered, which got 2 votes from our group (I think the second vote may have been my own son, simply feeling sympathetic for me).

Instead, we filmed the opening scenes of our new movie in Chinatown, “Where’s My F*cking Pout Pout Fish?” (inspired by our reading of the Pout Pout Fish performance at New Victory Theater). And on a surface level, I felt like a complete failure– here was my supposedly social justice oriented group of young people, opting to make a stupid movie about finding a pout pout fish, while the real activists took charge and raised awareness of the emergency problems of the world. And to some degree, that criticism is absolutely correct. And to some degree, to have insisted on direct action– against the will of the young people I was with– would have been a form of oppression, flying in the face of everything youth rights stands for. In the end, I embraced our group’s direction and helped to shoot many ridiculous (and fun) scenes of us on our journey to find our pout pout fish.

Tonight, as I washed the dishes and cooked dinner, I played the Max Q song “Way of the World” and listened to the lyrics, “And the corporate snakes coming in to feed / On that pathetic fact known as human greed / Skin and bone being raked over those hot coals / This dump never seems to give time for human soul / And all those things that we have learnt / No time for questions, you’ll just get burnt.” And then I listened to National Public Radio and heard the alarming news of the forthcoming impeachment and the wild fires that are spreading across southern California. And it is true that perhaps I did not directly advance our position against the politics of corruption or the advancement of an ecologically sound world. But I stand firm in my decision to embrace the pout pout fish and the desires of the young people I work with who are radically changing the world by simply being youth who want to have a childhood.