Two weeks ago the Glace Bay group decided they wanted to express themselves throughout this project in several forms: art, spoken word, and rhyming. At first it seemed as it would be an overwhelming task. However, the group quickly started asking questions, and forming what seemed like a plan. They asked such questions like; what should we write about? What do we say? Where do we even start? These types of question seem completely normal to me; as these are all questions I would ask myself when I sit down to start working on a paper.
When we expressed that there were no rules; that they can talk, write, draw, and or rhyme about whatever they felt was important to them. The dynamic in the room seemed to change. The no boundaries rule, allowed for great discussion. Yet, when it came time to write; it seemed clear (to me at least) that they felt that maybe they still should be filtered.
One of our facilitators asked if they could hear some of the music our group members had been working on in the past. The objective was to get a better understanding of what kind of music our group member likes to make. The youths’ response was quick “yea”, but with the same amount of quickness hesitation was present; as he added “but it might not be appropriate.”
We reassured them all that we wouldn’t judge and that we were excited to see what they had all worked on. But, I still understood that it takes time to allow someone to view your words because they are so much more than words, aren’t they? They are real life experiences; the truth of the matter is we are not their peers. The fear of not relating is always something I fear when I know my work is going to be read by other people. I wonder if they felt the same way too. With that being said, I am not sure if it is because I am a kid of the 90’s, or that I simply hated the idea of being “filtered.” But, something about that really got me to thinking about how we censor each other.
I personally remember as a kid being told by my grandmother (in an endearing, but still very matter of fact way) “kids should be seen; but never be heard.” It is important to note that she raised eight children. While she tended to her children (all of which have completely different personalizes I might add) my grandfather went off to work every day at the steel plant. Maybe quiet was something she yearned for. Now, I have several friends who have also been told that line from time to time. Well, I wonder; did we as a society (Cape Breton society) really embody that value system?
The interesting thing though, sometimes things have the ability to be just like the game of “telephone.” Oh, you know one person says a sentence, and each person in the circle has to whisper that same sentence to someone else and by the time the game is over the last person says the sentence out loud and more times than not it is never the same sentence, or the same context. So, did we just end up hearing that “kids should never be heard?”
This brought me back to a conversation I had with one of the youths’ from another group. She was telling me that an “older” lady was yelling at her several days before. When I asked why? She just laughed. She told me that it wasn’t a big deal; that she just yelled back at her. I was a little taken back, because I was told to always respect my elders; no matter what. So, I thought that I would pass this wisdom on to her. She looked at me and said, I hear you. But, I respect, respect.
What seemed clear to me now was; there is no age limit for respect, or wisdom. And well, damn.. respect, isn’t that what we are all really looking for? Lets put away the filters, and the censors and listen!