So the latest CD in the car that all three drivers agree on is Airborne Toxic Event, and it has got me thinking... Well to start, maybe I should give you the lyrics
|Airborn Toxic Event|
but punks like us we were always receiving instruction
and you could burn our cloths you could wash out the ink and the dye
but you can't look me in the eye and say you don't feel like a little destruction
and the kids are lining up on the wall and they're ready to die
and from: It Doesn't Mean a Thing
Now my dad says fuck the details
Just keep your head down hard
Ya got to find yourself alone before you'll find the eyes of God
You make broke and scared and out of jail
Out the flesh of your own heartstrings
But you were born to be a peasant not a king
So just stop acting like your running from something
Ya gonna leave the way you came without a thing
With your heart tattooed and your mind tied to a string
This all reminded me a little of The Living End, an Australian band I got very into because of one of my Aussie friends. Songs like Prisoner of Society...
And THAT got me thinking about punk... Punk was a rebel movement—labor class kids in England when labor JOBS had all but died... when hope was hard to come by. And so the music rebelled.
Which in the roundabout way things go in my head, got me thinking of rebellion in general. And rebellion of youth, specifically... and the eras in which youth rebelling have been so enormously prominent.
I'm not sure we had rebellious youth en masse until the 50s. And I believe, though I have only really studied via pop culture, that part of what led to that was the relative comfort of the middle class... there was CRAVING for that among poorer kids, and TIME on their hands never seen before among the privileged... time to take up a cause maybe they didn't NEED. There were the greasers because that was the option... and the greasers because that was the culture... because THAT seemed to be the road to the future (independence, forward momentum).
And then somewhere in there, young people lost the purpose of their rebellion. Rebellion became an individual or small group activity. Substance use (which admittedly always was a part) or clothes, but nothing meaningful or ideological. I mean the bigger movements weren't gone—I remember marching against Apartheid in college. But it didn't ever take on the entire young population again. WHY?
I have some theories:
1) The consumer age. During the Reagan Administration credit got cheaper and was given freely, even to college students (I was offered my first charge card in high school—just a Bon Marche card, but I have a suspicion I was the first generation who got it. Then in college, as a junior with no income, I was offered a Visa. Sure, it was only a $500 limit, but ALSO... debt with no income!? GADS!
What this really meant though, was an ease of the pang of want. People are less dissatisfied if they can buy their toys.
2) End of the draft. If the armed services are all voluntary, then the MASSES of young people no longer have to yell and scream when people are sent to war. I mean HECK, they signed on for it.
3) War funded on credit, starting with Reagan, instead of the entire population having to tighten their belts to pay for war we just charge it. This means that the population broadly barely notices. Now while there wasn't a major war between the Vietnam war and the first Iraq one, believe me, there was a heavy stream of military activity: Nicaragua, El Salvador... plus that bloody cold war that cost so much.
So with 30 years of nothing to do because we've been sedated with stuff and asked to give up nothing, we are out of practice. And worse, our kids have never SEEN protest. So at this time when they really should be fired up and fighting for their future, they are largely MIA. I find this sad.
I also hold the opinion that anybody who has never rebelled against something lacks critical thinking skills. If life falls into line, it means either lack of exposure to varied opinions, or lack of engagement in mental activity. Because everybody encounters something they disagree with at their core that comes from someone in authority--a parent, an education system, a religious institution, a government. Both lack of exposure and lack of evaluation are dangerous, so I hope any children you have rebel at some point against SOMETHING. (that is a blessing, not a curse)