B4Peace: A Tiger And His Boy Teach Empathy

This month’s Bloggers for Peace challenge is to work on empathy.

For this month’s challenge, I would like to work on empathy. Empathy is being able to step into the shoes of another and see things from their point of view. I challenge you to empathize with other bloggers this month

Are you kidding me? EBL is hardly the Empathy Bag Lady. How much do I have to suffer here? EBL and Empathy are rarely associated within the same continent, let alone blog. It’s like matter and anti-matter.

With that in mind I want to write about comics.

Say what now?

Well, it just so happens that I recently acquired a couple of treasures in a local charity shop. I love charity shops. I browse them whenever and wherever I can. There’s the little frisson of excitement when you go in, wondering what indescribable find you are about to make, the sense of being on the hunt, prowling like a mighty predator along the (slightly musty) shelves and bookcases. If I don’t find anything I learn patience, like the lioness. If I do find something I pounce like the cheetah, clutching my prize at the till where the kindly volunteer tries to work out how to count my change. Often I take back items bought a few months before and obtain a vicarious sense of achievement by de-cluttering and donating to a good cause. There simply is no down-side.

The treasures in question were a couple of collections of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, detailing the escapades of an imaginative but somewhat lonely boy and his stuffed tiger. Eldest Offspring has pretty much the complete set of books ever published but the wee scamp took them with him when he moved out and I really miss reading them. Admittedly this was about 10 years ago, Eldest Offspring being almost at retirement age already, but the pain has never entirely faded. Then I saw a couple of tattered copies casually chucked onto a shelf in the local Hospital League of Friends shop, and was transported, my dears, simply transported, back to a wonderful world.

Alright, EBL, you like comic strips. So what? How does this contribute meaningfully to a Bloggers for Peace post?

I am assuming anyone asking that question at this point has simply never read one of these jewels. In which case you need to be very ashamed and rectify your lack by going to the relevant website immediately.

http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes

See what I mean?

There are so many reasons I love these comics, but for the theme of empathy I suppose I would pick especially those wordless cartoons expressing a small child’s sense of wonder and excitement at being alive.

 

 

 

If we could all recapture that feeling of being in the moment, which characterises those long, sunny days of summer spent outside, doing crazy stuff just because, then the world would in fact be a better place.

While I was away recently, and after I drafted this post, I found out that Bad Things happened to Rarasaur. The bad things involve her being sent to prison unjustly, which you can read about in this post and the ones following it. It turns out I may have some empathy after all because I am still somewhat in shock having just caught up with events.

So I want to spread some #rawrlove through this month’s post about peace, being as Rara is one the best bloggers for peace (or of any kind of blogger in fact), being as she loves comics too, and being as her family need what support we can all give. A good way of doing that is taking a look at Dave’s Redbubble storefront, for example, and perhaps make a purchase.

Love knows no boundaries, it is all around us. Some days it may be harder to discern it, but have faith it is there.

Namaste.

 

Tug of war

The weather outside is pretty wet and the fields are as muddy as they come, so how better to indulge in rest and relaxation as per doctor’s orders than by participating in a hearty tug of war?

That’s just what is going on over at The Matticus Kingdom, and I for one am heading along to join in the fun. The Jester himself has decreed that all are welcome to join in the debate on the thorny issue of which is better: DC or Marvel. I felt it was time to settle this particular thorny issue for once and for all. Time for some EBL wisdom.

By the way and for your information, the last time I took part in a tug of war I was 16 years old. I got to be the anchor because I was heaviest (ie fattest), but who cares because we won, and that was the one and only time being the fat girl worked in my favour. So look out world, here I come again.

When I was no more than a little Bag Girl, back in the days before Electronic was even a thing, I was a devotee of Superman comics. Bunty and Princess just didn’t quite float my boat. The rest of the girls at school loved them, but I was a bit of a rebel and preferred my super-heroes. And what was not to like about Superman: square-jawed, clean-cut and generally-hyphenated even down to having an alter-ego in Clark Kent? As a short-sighted child I adored a hero who wore glasses and wasn’t the Milky Bar Kid.

Comics also had to compete with television, even in those prehistoric times. And on television was another superhero: Batman, with his quirkily scripted sidekick Robin and hilarious villains, not to mention cartoon-captioned fight scenes. Kapow! Zonk!

And so DC ruled my imagination for my early life. What you learn as a child stays with you. Admittedly I actually preferred Marine Boy, but that is another story.

After a time though, the Superman premise got a bit thin. What was that kryptonite thing about? A super-hero who couldn’t go near a rock? And all those LLs…. I was pretty sure Mrs Woodrow at school would have something to say about stories where everyone had the same initials. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I didn’t think it would be complimentary. Mrs Woodrow did not approve of laziness. Or a lack of imagination, which was a good thing when you coem to think of it.

Then one day I was in a newsagent and saw a new comic. It had The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman. I didn’t know who they were but the drawing style caught my eye and it was a special price because it was an introductory issue. Small girls with limited pocket money learn very early to spot a bargain, and I seized it with both sticky hands, despite the newsagent man giving me the eye because I was a girl and he thought it was a comic for boys.

O (as the young people have been wont to text and tweet) and M and finally G.

Who needs to be fighting alliterative villains when you have to avenge the murder of Uncle Ben and work off your existential guilt? Who needs a Bat Cave when just getting angry has consequences for your wardrobe? And never mind all those soppy LL girls, when there was the Invisible Girl! Who needs clean-cut, square-jawed, boring and serious heroes when you can have drippy, anxious, bumbling college boys and science geeks and the types who make emos look like Zeno the Stoic. It was all so full-on, in-your-face, shades-of-grey that I almost wept for the joy of it. There were ethical debates and impossible choices and consequences and philosophy. It all felt exhilaratingly grown up, which is a slightly odd thing to say about teenagers in lycra, but there you have it.

Superman was for babies; Spiderman was for the more mature, ten year old girl about town. I was finally confronted with stories where the good guys did bad things and the bad guys had proper back stories with causes and effects and it was in one sense just a teensy bit like real life. Complicated. You weren’t even quite sure who would win in a fight, and sometimes no one did.

Admittedly I didn’t realise Pater Parker and the guys were foreigners (Americans) until later when cartoons arrived on television. Until then I kind of imagined Peter talking a bit like a Cockney geezer. Kind of Lock Stock for kids. Uncle Ben would have been like Bob Hoskins: “Right, Peter, wiv great power comes great responsibility, geddit?”

Oh, did I mention the theme tune?

I won’t start on what happened when I discovered 2000AD. And as for the Sandman, well now. I think we’ll stop right there.

Now none of this is particularly witty or amusing. Comics are far too important for that. But the reasons my vote goes for Marvel are that (a) I like complicated, (b) I like blurred boundaries and (c) kids need to have a chance to explore their dark side too. I may have learned my science from Star Trek, but I established my moral compass with Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Namaste