Little Green Rat in a Cage

March 21, 2011

I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life
-Calvin and Hobbes, credit to Bill Watterson

Normally, you might laugh at someone who says that a comic strip impacted their world view, let alone quote one. Not even a quote like Charlie Brown’s famous “AAUGH!,” but a quote about life. Though, imagine if the world was like 6-y.o. Calvin’s world. Where the only thing we have to worry about it play. Adults feel like they can’t live in that world anymore. They have to be serious and stuffy with their oxford shirts so neatly pressed and pants with a nice crease in them. Maybe they should listen to Calvin. Get a grass stain now and then. It’s fun. It’s beautfiul. It adds a great aspect to your life. I’ve treaded these waters in blog form before, so I’ll end this portion of my ramblings with this: Go get grass stains now, because the way things are going, there may not be grass soon enough.

There is no comic strip on par with Calvin and Hobbes. The humor, wit, recurring themes, exploring familiar situations with fresh and interesting perspectives. It did inspire a generation of comic strip creators to be bolder. One such strip that boldly goes where some strips don’t dare to go, and one of my personal highlights of the Sunday paper, is Stephan Pastis’s “Pearls Before Swine.” The adult humor has gotten Stephan in hot water several times, with several religions and ethnic groups, but he writes what he knows and what humors him(something I’ve certainly done). As this is a blog, here’s one of the most famous(in a good way) Pearls strips that deals with the subject. One recent strip that explored a common theme of Pearls, Rat being angry at boring or moronic people, made a reference to Diogenes.

Like a normal inquisitive person with access to Wikipedia would do when hit with something odd, I searched it. Searching for Diogenes, I found that he was a Greek during the time of Plato that was a founding father of Stoicism. He lived in an overturned tub, disagreed with Plato and did other things generally not accepted by society of those days. He felt that one should do as they please and be happy with very little. Alexander the Great approached him when the conqueror was in the region and inquired if there was anything he could do for the man, to which Diogenes replied, “Yes, stand out of my sunlight.”

This was Alexander the Great he said it to. King of Kings. Undefeated in battle. The man who owned half the world. AND HE TOLD HIM TO MOVE. Why wouldn’t he? I mean, he was standing in his light. Who gives if he’s “Alexander the Great?” To Diogenes, this was just some other person. Who gave him the right to stand in his light? Just because he’s some big name doesn’t mean he isn’t human, the same as everyone else, no matter their lineage and credentials. He lived, by the way.

We as students, who are supposed to go out and change this world, must view the insitutions we wish to change in this way. The oil industry, big tobacco, corrupt drug trades run in conjunction with police. There are people who cower in fear of these big names, thinking they can do nothing to stop them. Of course you can’t. After all, they are huge industries, and despite all our rage, we are still just a Rat in a cage.

By ourselves, we are one rat in a cage. But, add one more person to the cause, and it becomes two rats in a cage. Add more and more people who believe in the cause and are willing to fight, and the cage will fill up. Add enough rats, the cage will burst. Anyone who’s seen “Willard” knows the horror of a group of rats with a similar mentality can do. Now, if all those rats were concentrating on biking over using cars, or implementing proper recycling habits at home games, what damage to the institution could be done? Who’s willing to get their knees a little Green?

“You think you can tell us what to do

You think you can tell us what to wear

You think that you’re better

Well you better get ready

To Bow To The Masters”

The Anthem of DeGeneration-X

As we work on our videos, we must understand that they are intended to be rallying cries. We have to whip our audience up into a frenzy. We can encourage a great deal of change if we can actually get people excited about our solutions. As any great orator will tell you, we also have to choose our words carefully. The right series of words can get the crowd to rise up, on their feet and on our sides. One word can be powerful and convey a great deal of emotion if said with the right inflection, or tear us down and break us if we aren’t careful. [Warning: The previous link is graphic, gritty, and just a tad bit edgy] Remeber Howard Dean’s “Peeeaawwwwww!” that Chapelle Show’s hilariously lampooned?  One word can make a huge difference. Or, if it’s possible, conveying a powerful message with no words. Merely actions, gestures, body language; they can tell you everything you need to know that words never could. There’s a Depeche Mode song about it called “Enjoy the Silence.” If you have the time, look into it. Take action; it’s the loudest your voice can get. Us having green knees at the end of the day will probably mean more to our audience than any words could. And if you’re not down with that, I GOT 2 WORDS FOR YA…….


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