Poetry does it for me. I spend half of my internet subscription downloading spoken word poetry. They are investments of some sort. For the future. A minute later. A day later. A year later. A safe house for when I’m depressed. Poetry for me is the way one word, sentence jumps out and crawls into my soul. It is the way I open my heart and entire being to that word/sentence and never let go.
Comfort the disturbed. Disturb the comfortable.
The above quote (comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable) are the words from Sarah Kay’s commencement (poetry) speech to the 2015 graduating class of Scripps College. I haven’t stopped thinking about that line.
My Jurisprudence lecturer would always say:
It is your duty as a right thinking member of the society to awaken the consciousness of others.
Sarah Kay made me understand that as an artist there are moments when you become comfortable with an idea, experience and even a specific word and there are moments when you’re disturbed by something and you want to seek comfort and share it with others. It happens. And serves as a way we can live and remain relevant in the world. A guide to build. It is our job to disturb the comfortable, to force those who consider themselves blissfully unaffected to learn, acknowledge, witness and act to challenge spaces that need to be challenged and it is also our job to seek ways to comfort those who have been disturbed, to provide for those who have been victimised by natural disasters or unnatural violence and tragedy. We have a duty to hold ourselves and the people around us gently and accountable. Some of us want to disturb radically and others quietly, under the radar. It’s possible. You can shape behavior until it changes minds or change minds until it shapes behavior.
But there’s a problem. The Conspiracy of Silence. Another great line from my very eccentric Jurisprudence and International law lecturer. No one wants to disturb. Every one is scared of tilting the scale. They say “It’s not affecting us yet” or “It is not your fight” or “He is older than you” or “But why did you go there?” Etc etc etc etc. Those subtle statements yet hurtful that say one thing :
Let the sleeping dog lie.
Sometimes we have to wake the dog and unleash it.
I was in JSS1 when one of my teachers sexually assaulted my classmate. We were just 10. Confused and Ignorant and Innocent. And when some seniors got to know about it and wanted to take the matter further, we were told to “let the sleeping dog lie”!!!
12years later I dare say I know better than to let any dog sleep!!!
You owe it to the next person to speak up. Awaken their consciousness. People forget that the rights they enjoy today were once deemed privileges and that they enjoy these rights because the comfortable ones were disturbed. Patriarchy. Rape culture. Education. Racism. NAME IT!!!!
My silly friends call me Ned Stark. They say I’m too good. They say I’m an activist. Feminist. But they don’t fail to add that Ned Stacks died. He was killed because he was toooooooooo good and then they laugh.
A lot of things would happen when you decide to comfort the disturbed. When you begin to question what society has called normal and bring down walls of status quo.
You can disturb the comfortable through your words, poems, care, shared experiences and opportunities for empathy. You can also comfort the disturbed through your words, poems, care, sharer experiences, creativity and so much me.
Disturb the comfortable!
Comfort the disturbed!
Love and Plenty Sunshine