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Us vs. Them

Hello. I'm John Fischer. In addition to recording horrible 17-minute pieces on a cheap mic and Microsoft Sound Recorder, I think a lot. And I do mean a lot. When you're as nonsocial as me, you have a lot of time to yourself. I generally take up that time by mulling about what other people say. Be it a written column in the Star Ledger's editorial section, opinions voiced at Fark.com's comments section, or even song lyrics from the many "punk" bands I listen to.

Now, one of the popular standing opinions I keep hearing is against "Them." The words I hear against "Them" are too large to count. When I was about 14 and listening to Rage Against The Machine ALL the time, Zach kept yelling to A) "Know my enemy" and B) "They are the enemy." And I, showing how smart I was then, angrily agreed. "They" must be stopped. "They" are my enemy. "We" must unite against "Them!" "THEY" MUST DIE! RALLY AROUND THE FAMILY, POCKET FULL OF SHELLS!

Or so I thought. Then I started to really listen to "punk" music. Dead Kennedy's 'Frankenchrist' lured me in with "MTV Get Off The Air" and then tried to parlay their political soundings to me in "Soup Is Good Food" and "Stars of Stripes of Corruption." Then, being about 15ish at the time, I just listened and nodded my head. I quickly soon got the other DK CDs and even CDs of Youth Brigade and even a Propaghandi CD, in addition to the other punk bands I liked (i.e. SNFU, AFI, Descendents). Now I'm hearing who exactly who "Them" is. "They" are the big guys who push the little ones around. "They" are the large corporations who tell the workers what to do. "They" are the huge liars which messed up society. "They" are the ones who say the American political system is farked-up and fascist. Or did they say it was a practical Theocracy led by Jerry Falwell's Christian Coalition? Perhaps "They" are the racists still discriminating any minority by any means necessary. Whatever these bands actually said, they all agreed that "They" are the most evil force on the planet (which they are also destroying, I might add). And with each song, their is a call to "Us" to unite and fight them!

Just one problem. Many of them also sang about "thinking for yourself." I was quite impressionable back then, and since I couldn't really "fight the evil powers that be," I did just that. There and then, it hit me. All of those political-punk bands were full of crap. Unite to fight "Them?" What an utter load of parrot droppings! Seems quite interesting that "They" are all big corporations, the authorities, and the US government; moreso when a lot of political bands tell their fans to "think for themselves" in between yelling against "Them."

No wonder there are so many of them who say the same thing. To appeal to impressionable kids like me who think that intelligence in song lyrics is equal to the number of large words they have, you need a LOT of bands. And they aren't telling them to think for themselves, but to agree with their political philosophies and fight groups they don't really know. When I was 14/15/16, I didn't know a thing about GE, yet I was told that they are my enemy. Now that I know more about the world by other sources than a band you'd never see on TV or on commercial radio (Two other "enemies" apparently. Jealousy?), I don't hold their prejudices. Companies are run by people, not machines. The US government is run by a lot of people. Enough so that even the strongest lobby can't get a grip over the whole presidency or Congress or even the Supreme Court. Improvement for each may be needed, but "They" are FAR from being my enemies. "They" do nothing to impinge on my isolationist lifestyle. I do not fear "Them."

Maybe it has something to do with what I actually read and listen to. Maybe I just surround myself with a lot of talk against "Them." Maybe it's my natural tendency to question what people go along with. However, I am positive that those who want "Us" to unite against "Them" are MY enemies. They want it to be "Us v. Them?" All right, then. Only it'll be the ones who actually form their own opinions against those who cry out the same message over and over again like propaganda for Big Brother in 1984. It'll be individuals who may or may not agree with each other against drones who automatically follow what a political punk band yells without question. But it won't be fought in the streets. It won't be by protest or vandalism. It will be done by debate and healthy argument. There you will realize that the "Us vs. Them" mentality is not what you'd like it to be. How would you like to come face to face with the realization that you're not revolutionary leaders, but nothing more than brainwashers?

I didn't think so. I expect criticisms for what I said here. After all, if you don't agree with something, you should say so. Just as long as you're doing so without anyone else pushing you to do it. That wouldn't make sense. I want to hear from YOU, not another "Them." I'm sick of "Thems." I'm going to go back to listening to SNFU.

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