(I posted this last night over at dKos, but I wanted to share it with the crowd here)
It happened to each of us here today. At some point in our lives, the switch was thrown, we became aware, we became Democrats, liberals, progressives, etc.
It may have been our parents and family – a long line of intellectuals who understood the world and how it worked. It may have been our schooling – that one teacher who reached out and opened our eyes to the realities of society. It may be in our nature, to be compassionate and think about the greater good above the self.
Something happened to us, something made us different than those who favor corporate kickbacks and greased lobbyist palms.
My story begins below the fold.
I was raised in a middle class – maybe lower middle class – household in New Jersey. Our dinner conversations didn’t revolve around the day’s political news, or even any of the day’s news for that matter. My parents are both Republicans, supporting Reagan, Bush and Bush.
We didn’t follow the news of Iran-Contra and the other machinations of the republican machine of the 1980s. As an adolescent growing up in this house, I didn’t think much about what was being done in our names, I trusted our government just like I was taught to.
That is, until something unexpected happened.
My brother, five years older than I, came home one afternoon with a record in his jacket, one he claimed would change my world. Considering the music of the day and what we were in to, he was very right. We made our way to his bedroom in the basement, the record concealed from possible prying parental eyes.
When we got down there, he took out the disc and placed it on the turntable, handing the jacket to me. I was a bit unsure of what to expect when I looked over the sleeve.
One side featured a sixties era business man looking at paper work in a forlorn manner, with the words “Life Sentence” across the border. The name of the band is what really caught my attention – Dead Kennedys. It was clear just from the graphics that this was not The Who or Van Halen or the Rolling Stones. This was something more, something daring.
We listened through the tune Life Sentence, stunned by the aggression of the track, finding it very much to my liking. Then we put on the other side…
The track was called Bleed For Me, and the lyrics shocked me…in a very good way…
Bleed For Me
by Dead Kennedys
You’ve been hanging ’round
With an enemy of the state
Come with me to the building
That no one stops to watch
Bleed for me
We’ll strap you to a pipe
Electrodes on your balls
Face down in a pool of piss
America wants fuel
To get it, it needs puppets
So what’s ten million dead?
If it’s keeping out the Russians
We’re well trained by the CIA
With Yankee tax money in Ft. Bragg
The Peace Corps builds us labor camps
When they think they’re building schools
When cowboy Ronnie comes to town
Forks out his tongue at Human rights
Sit down enjoy our ethnic meal
Dine on some charbroiled nuns
Try a medal on…
Smile at the mirror as the cameras click
And make big business happy
Maybe you’ll just disappear
The cynicism, sarcasm and outright outrage of these words struck a chord with me.
From that day forward, I sought out other artists with the guts to say what needed to be said. I was 13 years old. I am now 32 and have learned a thing or two in my life, but the lesson that those words taught me – that it is necessary to question in order to learn – has stuck with me and guided much of my mindset.
Recently, a friend asked me if I would prefer to be one of the masses, not concerned with politics and corruption, worrying only about sports and tv and whatnot. I answered quickly, that I would rather know and be distraught by our country than to go through life being manipulated and unaware. That one song laid the groundwork for this mindset