Tonight Bunny, Mimi, and I were sitting around talking about the difficulty we sometimes have in trying to describe what The Pinky Show is. "What is your show about?" is one of the more common questions we get. You'd think this should be easy to answer, but even now, I often find myself struggling to summarize our work in just a few words.
Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that since starting up this project approximately three years ago, we've consciously tried to resist becoming a 'single issue oriented' project, which is how most organizations are generally known to the public. Examples:
Greenpeace = environmentalism
CodePink = end the Iraq War
UNICEF = children.
I guess it's natural for people to want to pidgeon-hole an organization or project in terms of a single, specific issue. After all, it does help make things easier to grasp immediately. I'm guessing this is why we often have people saying things to us like, "So the Pinky Show is an anti-war program?", or "Oh I get it, you guys are environmentalists!" Well, we do oppose the war and occupation of Iraq. And yes, we also like trees more than pollution. But in spite of these kinds of statements of position, there's something about self-defining our project according to these kinds of labels that doesn't sit well with me. I think it's because, to me, the main reason why I want to learn things is not to promote any particular policy agenda. The point of learning is to transform my world view, my consciousness. I feel like if we (all of us) were somehow more conscious as to what's really going on around us and how the world works, we would all quite naturally start inching our way towards good and not evil. Of course we'd all have to fight it out as to exactly where we should go next, but that's a given. First I want to be awake. I think this is why I prefer that we (Bunny, Mimi, Kim, Daisy, myself) not focus on one or even just a few 'related' subjects to discuss. I'd rather we keep learning about all sorts of things, together with all the complicated connections that exist between them. I don't want to become an 'expert', as the word is commonly used nowadays.
I'm sure a lot of people will interpret the above as being 'unfocused' in a negative way, but probably this is unavoidable. What I really want to create is a good way of relating to the world and all the beings, things, and ideas in it. In the past I've described this as our obsession with trying to train ourselves to think and act with openness, honesty, and compassion. We are trying to guide ourselves according to these somewhat abstract principles, rather than always working within a specific issue or disciplinary boundary.
Now, it would be good if I could figure out how to say this clearly in one sentence.
[ note from Bunny: I don't like the way you suggest it's possible to somehow 'wake up' first, then struggle towards good things second. I think we continually develop our consciousness as we struggle along. ]
[ pinky: Okay, good point. But either way I still can't find an elegant way to summarize our project in one or two sentences. The point is our project does not approach 'education' in a conventional manner, and unless Mimi has some catchy, clarifying blurbs to write in our grant applications, The Pinky Show won't be around for much longer. ]
[ Bunny: Agreed. ]
[ Kim: Some people think that the single unifying theme of The Pinky Show is that it is always anti-American. ]
[ Bunny: Those people are idiots. ]
[ pinky: So much for the 'compassion' part! ]
[ Bunny: Ch! I know you think they're idiots too... ]
[ Bunny, 4/11/2008: I've been thinking about this some more... Maybe it would be good to identify The Pinky Show not so much as an instructional program about various topics, but rather an ongoing project that uses the form of making educational materials as a way to explore our own minds. It's not a noun, it's more like a verb. To me this would be a more accurate description of what we are doing. Because think about it - if you describe The Pinky Show as a bunch of online videos, then of course it's natural for someone to ask "So what kind of things do the various episodes talk about?" But teaching others about certain topics is not the main reason why we're doing The Pinky Show, right? The main thing is for us to keep learning. Imagine if we had zero viewers - the activity of doing research, writing, distilling down the information, and making presentations would still be an excellent process to help us think clearly about how we're thinking. I for one would still enjoy making Pinky Shows (or Bunny Shows) even if no one ever watched our show. ]
[ Kim: Yeah, I like Bunny's point. It's not like the point is to be critical of specific things - X, Y, and Z. It's more important to make critical consciousness so that we can be critical (not in a bad way) of anything and everything. This way we can know who we are and not always be getting lost. ]
[ pinky: Agreed! Although for me, I do like the idea that lots of people watch our show, because then I feel like we have company as we try to move towards good things. ]