Thursday, May 13, 2004

Pyjama Power

This ten-year-old is a wonder:

Ten-year-old Shane Ellis says some things in life are worth the embarrassment of being seen wearing pyjamas in public.

Yesterday he walked three kilometres to and from school in his pyjamas to make a point.

Horrified after seeing a photo in of a naked Iraqi prisoner cowering in fear as he was about to be attacked by dogs at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib Prison, Shane decided drastic action was called for.

"I thought, 'Poor guy, he must be scared. I wanted to share his humiliation'," said the young activist.

To do that, he turned up for class at Pauatahanui School yesterday in his flannel PJs.


Teacher Craig Stevenson applauded Shane's actions.

"It's a great statement. It's very exciting. Political statements aren't made every day, even by adults."

And how did his classmates react? "They thought he was a dick."

However, views changed after Mr Stevenson held a classroom discussion on the Iraqi situation.

"They've now got a better understanding of what's going on. They are now looking at it from both points of view."


Shane had suggested going to school in his underpants but [his father] insisted on his wearing pyjamas.

So here's this kid in New Zealand, this ten-year-old kid, who read about the Abu Ghraib situation and was upset by it. And with that emotion he crafted a way to help his peers see into it more clearly. He knew it was about bullying, on a large and horrific scale, and he brought that home to his classmates. Walked to school in his pj's in order to be made fun of, in order to gain empathy for the prisoners--and ended up helping his class gain that empathy and that understanding, that stunning insight into the heart of the matter, the dynamics of power and oppression:

"Bullying behaviour is unacceptable anywhere."

Man, that kid is so sharp it isn't funny. I hope he grows up to be president.