Mark Reads ‘Lifeboats’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of Lifeboats, Kit discovers the power of one conversation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Sometimes, all it takes is one.

So, I’ve been doing social justice work ins some form or another for a long time. I first started protesting in high school and first starting shedding the horrific things I learned around that time, too. And that unlearning process is a life-long thing, and some day, I’ll write about that at length, since I think it’s an important conversation to have. But that’s not for here. I know that fighting for justice—no matter how small, no matter how brief—can be a lonely, frustrating journey. Perhaps the greatest roadblock to that journey is changing minds, and it’s something that is incredibly difficult to do. How do you help unearth harmful ideologies? How do you get someone started on a path that is designed to be uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing?

It’s not easy. It almost never is. And it is true that most of the time, a person has to want to learn for that process to begin. That’s a difficult thing to overcome, y’all. So, one of the things I learned early on is that you’re probably going to have to repeat yourself. A lot. You will meet people in life who will refuse to understand you. Who will question your authenticity, your expertise. Who will interrupt as soon as you start making a point. Who will use humor or anger or “logic” to disrupt you and derail you and do everything possible to avoid just listening.

If you’ve been around here or on Mark Watches for a while, I’m certain you’ve seen this play out. Some days, I wish I could say something different! It’s not exactly fun to do critical analysis of something you love and talk about all the things that make it messy or harmful. And I have said the same thing about any number of shows and books in slightly different ways, and I know that there will be people who read my words, and they’ll leave. Or argue. Or troll me on social media. Or email me privately. My moderators do a fantastic job of keeping nearly all of that stuff away from all of you, but it’s there. I’ve come to expect it these days.

And yet.


There are few things as rewarding as the experience I was reminded of while reading this chapter. Look, Kit did his very best to explain to that unnamed sibik why he felt choosing life was a better option. Was that frustrating? Challenging? Immensely uncomfortable? Absolutely. It was all of those things. Kit had tried to be respectful of the Tevaralti and not presume he knew better than them, and thus, he spoke to them through the sibik. He didn’t have that massive conversation with a single Tevaralti, and yet, his frank honesty and his appeal to the One changed lives. That one sibik was returned home, and that one seed planet in its mind grew. It spread. It became something larger, powerful, and incredibly impactful.

The truth is that its exhausting to care about the world and to care about others, especially when there are so many cosmic injustices out there. This is a fantastical example of one, yes, but the pieces are all there. The Tevaralti do not deserve what is happening to them. It is an utter tragedy that all of them must move to another place to survive. This inherent acceptance and empathy with refugees and forced migration means so much to me because this story does not demonize the Tevaralti for their choices. That doesn’t mean Kit feels perfectly fine about everything. Hell, most of this book is about his existential crisis in the face of something that is unjust and wrong, yet it’s something he can’t change. Indeed, that’s one of the most adult things a person can experience. So what do you do in the face of impossibility?

You try anyway. Because maybe your words and your actions will be the spark to set it all aflame.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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