Category Archives: Media and Music Reflections

Who Cares if One More Light Goes Out? I Do

Who cares if one more light goes out
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out
If a moment is all we are
Or quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out
Well I do
From Linkin Park’s song one more light

I was a late comer to the Linkin Park phenomenon. I didn’t find their music until 2010 and the album A Thousand Suns. I have needed different types of music at different times in my life and music has always been one of those ways I could connect with what I was feeling on the inside. In 2010, after having seeing a dream fail to materialize, suffering from anxiety and depression after living in a stressful work and home environment for several years, seeing a marriage that I thought would last forever fall apart and finding myself raising my son on my own and my daughter living in another state I needed a different kind of music. I gravitated back to rock and metal after a decade or more of listening to primarily country because I needed something that resonated with the pain, the anger, the frustration and the fear inside. In 2010 the rapid fire rapping of Mike Shinoda and the at times hauntingly beautiful and at other time primal dissonant scream of Chester Bennington paired in a way that touched the emotions I felt at the time. I quickly went back and purchased Hybrid Theory, Meteora, Minutes to Midnight and Road to Revolution and they were played over and over. I wrote down the lyrics and they wrote themselves on my mind as I screamed out some of my own sense of powerlessness. Slowly my life came back together but my love for the band’s music remained. I loved that each album was different and how they continually experimented with new sounds and yet there was still something unique to the music they made. In 2015 I had the opportunity to see them in Dallas. They were one of the groups I had wanted to see and the opportunity came and I am glad I took it. It was September in Dallas and the night was hot and sticky but Thirty Seconds to Mars and then Linkin Park both came. Linkin Park’s set was intense as they moved from hit to hit and I left wishing they could have played a few more. I had tickets to see them again this August with the One More Light tour, a tour that was cancelled after Chester Bennington’s suicide at 41.

Music and musicians touch us. I had friends who were devastated by the loss of Michael Jackson, Prince, or Chris Cornell. I think all of them were great musicians but their music never was the music I sang over and over again. I never met Chester, but I grieve for the loss of him. I’ve walked with family members after a suicide and I can only imagine what his family and his bandmates are feeling. Even though I know a little of his story, I consider myself very fortunate that even at my darkest moments thoughts of suicide were fleeting and quickly pushed aside. I am thankful for the emotion he put into his work, his band’s music, his performance and all of these helped me express what I felt at a time where I needed it. Paper Ships is my own small tribute to a person we lost too soon. Thankfully I can carry hours of his music on my phone and play it and it still resonates. If One More Light is the last light we hear from Linkin Park I am thankful for the music they have produced over the past seventeen years. #RIPCHESTER and may those left behind eventually find the peace in this life that you never did.

The Names We Take and the Names We Give

I enjoy music, a wide range of music, and so one of my hopes was to take something that strikes me when I am listening to it throughout the week, take the lyrics and their meaning and then see what thoughts it evokes. Just because today’s offering comes from the world of Rock/Metal and it happened to be what got me thinking today…you never know what might provoke thought.

One note before going further, the song, My Name by Shinedown does contain profanity which some people may be offended by. I have removed much of the repetition of chorus and tags in the text of the lyrics. My comments will be below, I also deal with some offensive material in this post due to the nature of the subject.

My Name (Your Wearing Me Out)

My name is worthless like you told me I once was
My name is empty ’cause you drained away the love
My name is searching since you stole my only soul
My name is hatred, and the reasons we both know

Worthless, empty, searching, hatred 
Who am I right now?

You’re fuckin’ wearing me out! 
You’re always dragging me down!
You’re the fake fallen force of nature’s sick mind!
I don’t need a gun to take back what’s mine
It’s over
It’s over now
You’re done wearing me out

My name is screaming like the sound of your heart failing 
My name is loco like the motive that betrayed me
Screaming, loco, don’t say you know who I am right now

You’ll be ancient history 
But who am I right now?

My name is revenge and I’m here to save my name 

I’m sure somebody is thinking, “these are terrible” why would anyone want to focus any time on this, but we all give and take names, some that are honorable and good and some that are horrible. I say to people dealing with the aftermath of verbal and psychological trauma, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will send me to therapy.” Names and words hurt, and even the most resilient person will occasionally take a label that someone else gives them into part of their personality. If you look back at some of the work I discuss from Brené Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, you can see how powerful this is. Taking a name is a way that shame takes hold of us. In the song the person’s names become: worthless, empty, searching, hatred, screaming, loco, revenge…they may not be the names we want but sometimes they are the words we take and give.

Miroslav Volf in Exclusion and Embrace relates a story from his homeland from the perspective of a Muslim woman:

“I am a Muslim, and I am thirty five years old. To my second son who was just born, I gave the name “Jihad.” So he would not forget the testament of his mother—revenge. The first time I put my baby at the breast I told him, “May this milk choke you if you forget.” So be it. The Serbs taught me to hate. For the last two months there was nothing in me. No pain, no bitterness. Only hatred. I taught these children to love. I did. I am a teacher of literature. I was born in Ilijaś and I almost died there. My student, Zoran, the only son of my neighbor, urinated into my mouth. As the bearded hooligans standing around laughed, he told me: “You are good for nothing else, you stinking Muslim woman…” I do not know whether I first heard the cry of felt the blow. My former colleague, a teacher of physics, was yelling like mad, “Ustasha, ustasha…”And kept hitting me. Wherever he could. I have become insensitive to pain. But my soul it hurts. I taught them to love and all the while they were making preparations to destroy everything that is not of the Orthodox faith. Jihad—war. This is the only way… “(Volf 1996, 111)

Fortunately most of us are not literally named something as horrible as Jihad, although the family dynamics of hatred passed from one generation to another are very real, as does the reality of abuse: physical, psychological or sexual. The natural response for a wounded person is to wound another, if I am insulted the natural response is to bring someone else down to make myself feel better (even though this doesn’t work and only decreases my own self worth). Yet the cycle of naming continues.

How does the cycle end? How do we give new and better names to ourselves and others? It isn’t easy. It starts first with being clear about who we are, and what are the names we are willing to accept for ourselves, and even the type of self-talk we do. No matter how bone-headed some action may have been that doesn’t make a person an idiot-they are simply someone who did something dumb. A child who shoplifts can either take it into their identity that they are a thief or they can be ashamed of the action, I stole something, but that doesn’t change who I am. I’m a person with a fairly strong sense of who I am, but even I have to work at this.

I have a plaque in my office, given to me by Nate Frambach who was my advisor which says: “Neil Eric White you are a baptized child of God. Whatever else you are, remember you are that; for that is the basis of whatever else you are.” I go back to this often. At the root, that is a name I’ve taken that I desire to be the touchstone any other name is judged by. I’m not always there, there are times when another name seems to overwhelm that or any other name, but eventually I come back to this name that I claim this name that isn’t wearing me out. There is much more to say so perhaps I’ll spend some more time here next week.

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