“Everyone fights for position. Everybody wants to be seen. And heard.”
“I guess so. I’m seen and heard pretty much. But then I get sent to my room a lot, too.”
– Maggie & Kevin McCallister, Home Alone 2
In the first movie, Kevin has a talk with his old neighbor. In the second, he talks with a homeless lady, Maggie, who loves pigeons. As she sees it, the people of New York City don’t want to see a homeless person as part of their world, so they try to ignore her like they ignore the pigeons. Kevin feels ignored as well, in his own home, because it seems no one listens to him and everyone sides against him, even though he feels perfectly justified. That’s when they have this little exchange, and it rings true.
Maggie knows, from experience, that it’s not so easy for anyone else either.
Everyone has their own voice, and they want to be heard. They want to be acknowledged, for the worth of their existence to be recognized. With everyone wanting that all at the same time, everyone’s voices can blend into a noise that drowns each individual in what seems like an insurmountable tumult. The natural reaction, then, is to fight harder, to raise one’s voice. And that can lead to trouble.
Kevin has the same urge as anyone else, to be acknowledged, and his frustration often gets the better of him, so he acts out in ways that aren’t very nice. What he doesn’t know yet is that there are ways of getting people’s attention which don’t involve misbehaving. Indeed, if he truly wants to be taken seriously, then he needs to make his perspective known in ways which won’t get him into trouble. Ideally, by maintaining his calm and being respectful even when he’s angry.
People may pay attention to a screaming child throwing a tantrum, but it’s not going to earn much in the way of respect.
Of course, the flip side there is that sometimes, on occasion, getting into trouble is simply a price that must be paid. My mother loves telling this story of when I was little, and one of my sisters was really making me mad, and so I hit her with all the might I could muster in my little toddler body, and then, without even missing a beat, I whirled around, marched to the corner of the room, and put myself in time out. I remember nothing of this experience myself, but clearly I understood the concept of accepting the consequences of my actions. 😉
And that is definitely something to keep in mind.
Whatever we do to be acknowledged, there will be consequences of one form or another, even and most especially if we succeed. Some of these consequences will be ours, and some will fall onto other people. We need to be aware of this whenever we speak up, because if not, then we’ll have even less say than usual about what happens after we’re done talking.
To be seen and heard is a form of power, and so it comes with responsibility, as Spider-Man would observe.