Music continues to define me.
I’ll try to keep this post short. I feel the need to document this period of time, because it seems to be rather definitive in the development of my activist persona.
I was raised in a very conservative home – I didn’t even know how conservative, until I began to stray away from my family’s accepted ideals. “Liberal” is spoken in the same tone as curse words; it’s an insult in my home. Largely because of this, I intended to keep my passions as distant from my home life as possible – even the little I’ve mentioned had set of fireworks.
A wise friend once told me that this was a bad idea, to never attempt to separate who you are (activist life) from who you’re expected to be (home life), because one could be used against the other.
Music has always had a very powerful affect on me. I can’t just take a song as words and a good beat – there must be more, much more. There are bands I love for their simplicity, but my favorite bands are those who manage to capture passion, lyricism, and storytelling, and wrap it up as incredible noise. Rise Against, an arguably hardcore/punk band from Chicago, is one of the few bands to meet my standards. In the past week, I spent way too much money and drove way too many miles, all to bruise my hips, hyper-extend my neck, and get sunburn. I consider these my battle scars of a great punk show; but I walked away with more than just injuries, autographs, and pictures. I walked away feeling empowered, confident. Unashamed.
I had an epiphany in the middle of Rise Against’s set. It was as if all the pieces had come together: how the world has gotten here, how people can help but why they still feel helpless, how this world will come crashing down – and the same people who have caused its descent will insist they hold the answers to the future.
I knew these things before, but I only knew them as facts. I didn’t feel it as emotion or conviction. I’m no longer afraid of judgment, because I don’t really feel like I’m living to promote my own interest at this point. My voice is better used to amplify and speak for those who cannot do so for themselves.
I lost my words when I met Tim McIlrath, singer/guitarist/lyricist of Rise Against. But I intended to say this:
I don’t know much about your band, but I know what your music means to me. When I’m forced to choose between who I am and who I’m expected to be, it’s nice to have a soundtrack. Thank you.
I can’t walk away. I can’t look away. I can’t hope that someone else will fix it. I can’t be quiet when there so much left unsaid.
I know I’m not alone. I feel isolated, but I know I’m not alone.
We still believe in all the things that we stood by before. After everything we’ve seen here, maybe even more.