Shut Up And Listen
As you might have guessed, it's time for one of my favorite segments I like to call "Shut Up And Listen." Just kidding I don't do segments but that is the title of this post and maybe I should start all my rants off with this picture. Heck, with the way I do things here I should have just named my blog that. I mean let's get real: all I do is rant here anyway. You should be forewarned that this will be a vicious rant.
With that being said, I shall begin. Read at your own risk.
I've always loved teenagers. Always and forever. It started at a very young age and I never told anyone about it because I thought it was stupid and I didn't want people to make fun of me for it. I was terrified of standing up for myself. If you read my last post you know all about my childhood; how I hated adults because they made fun of me. I remember my AWANA leaders and people from church and my dad; how I felt like they put me down and made me feel awful. It was rough. I realized that this was why I'm so shy now. I don't speak much as a teenager and it was because my whole like I was told that my opinions didn't matter and if I spoke up, someone would pick on me for it. So many years of conditioning taught me to stay quiet. I've got 17 years worth of emotions to sort out. In light of all that, me commenting on a status doesn't seem so silly now does it? I was actually proud, because I stood up for myself and my sister; which was something I used to be terrified to do. You see, my sister posted a status saying "If you don't have at least a little respect for Kurt Cobain than I am judging you so hard." First of all, everyone was forewarned that she was going to judge them so hard. She basically stated upfront that she would fight for him; therefore the angry commenters knew what they were getting into. Yet they commented anyway saying horrible things about Kurt Cobain and how immature she was for looking up to him. 1. Just don't. I don't care who it is you don't hate on someone's role model; its not going to change their opinion. 2. Clearly my sister knew he had gotten into some seriously bad stuff; so it was even more beautiful when she said that anyway. That's what God does with us. He looks past our sins; having that same ability is genuine. I don't want to hear "but he's not a Christian so it doesn't apply to him." because that is a stupid argument that Christians use to not feel obligated to love someone they don't think is worthy. Besides, if your sins were broadcasted to the world, people would think you were full of it too. Don't hate someone because they sin differently than you.
While the status was the original spark, I want to move into a more broad topic. Adults in a general, tend to treat teenagers like crap. They assume they're rebellious and everything they do is selfish and immature. Adults judge by appearance. That kid has a lip ring? "Must be goth." Has scars? "It's for attention." Oh, and my personal favorite: listens to screamo? "He's a Satanist." Where in the heck did we get those ideas from?!? Do you even have a solid argument?! Sure there is a "stereotype" for those kind of kids. You know what its called? Mutual understanding. Allow me to show you.
These kids that you make fun of and ridicule, they're onto something. I noticed it at 10 years old; they were using self expression. I mean, come on now. Are you really so ignorant you can't see it?! It's practically spelled out on a bright neon sign for you! "You are what you love, not who loves you." That's from a Fall Out Boy song which I thought was perfect for this. We are what we love. When someone says a song is their favorite, you shut the heck up and listen to that song because you'll learn something about someone that you never would have known. If someone likes a book, or a quote, or someone to look up to...what does that say about the person you're speaking to? If I said I admired Kesha, would you be so shallow to think "Wow. So what you're trying to say is that you love getting wasted and partying?" No. You missed the point. Try a little harder. Actually use your brain instead of simply looking at the outside of the situation. If the pieces don't fit try to turn it around instead of discard it.
In my ministry I work with teenagers who self harm and have depression and eating disorders. I talk to them on a daily basis. One thing that 98% of them share in common is their taste in music. What does this say about those artists? They're doing something right. To attract a ton of hurting kids....wow. They're looking for something, they need a voice; and through music, they have one. Before you go judging someones taste in music, try just listening to it. Here's a taste of some of these "satanist" bands my kids and I listen to. (By kids I mean my RAIM kids.)
"I kissed the scars on her skin. I still think you're beautiful and I don't ever want to lose my best friend."-A Match Into Water, Pierce The Veil.
"You have many options in life. Don't make giving up one of them."-Austin Carlile, Of Mice And Men.
"Wrists are for bracelets, not for cutting."-Kellin Quinn, Sleeping With Sirens.
The word "Nirvana" (where the band got its name.) means to find a place of happiness without suffering.
To "Pierce The Veil" (being a business and religious term.) means to cut the problem off at the root.
"Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self respect and everything that goes along with your self esteem. They're no good at all."-Kurt Cobain.
"Therapy is about every kids worst nightmare. When people are telling you that you need to get help but all you really want is a hug."-Alex Gaskarth, All Time Low.
"I know you want to leave but friend please don't take your life away from me."-Friend Please, Twenty One Pilots.
Andy Biersack (of Black Veil Brides.) wrote the song Knives And Pens about coping. You can either run to knives to cut, or you can write. He chose to write.
"It's okay, there's always another day."-Another Day, Paramore.
Basically everything about the song and video of Stay Together For The Kids by Blink 182.
I could end it there. What more proof could you possibly need? Music saves lives. Most mainstream music, and dare I say even a lot of Christian music, is just so shallow. We don't need people to say how happy go lucky everything is. We need honesty. Sometimes its not enough to be happy. Have you ever felt like that? Because I know I have. I'm allowed to hate my situations and I'm allowed to say so. Also, a lot of artists don't address much needed topics like self harm and eating disorders because they're so stigmatized. Yet punk rockers do this because they've been there and they understand.
Another point: let me use an example of depression. Just because someone has depression doesn't mean they're depressed. Get what I'm trying to say? You aren't your struggle. I'm not Faith That Prideful Chick. I'm Faith God's Daughter Who He Has Forgiven And Cleansed Of All The Stupid Crap She's Done. The same is true for drug addicts and people who struggle with alcoholism or whatever the case. It doesn't define them. But maybe they think it does; maybe the believe that this struggle runs their life; you gotta show them it doesn't. We are called to be the light. Christians are so freakin judgmental and I'm going to stop that there before I rant more because that's a blog post for another time.
If you still don't believe a word I say, take it from two pretty punk rock people I have the honor of knowing. Introducing Thurston and my sister, Dayle.
"Another thing, how do you dress gayly? Last I checked, actions determined you're sexuality." This is Thurston, who rants about people calling certain punk rockers "gay." Can I get an amen?
"We're told to stand up for what we believe in, but how come if someone older is against what we believe in; we're wrong?"-Dayle
"I don't get why people in this world have to go about attacking rockstars without even first considering what they might have gone through."-Thurston against the "you shouldn't have those type of people are your role model" argument.
For one second let's pretend this whole "they're different" factor isn't there. (That's why everyone hates them right? "They express their individuality by dressing the same." Ha no.) Have you considered that teenagers just want to be treated like regular human beings instead of outcasts?! Wow! Who would have thought! Honestly, don't judge a book by its cover. Take the time to get to know someone. Having a nose ring doesn't make you a failure and having a tattoo sleeve doesn't make you a criminal. They only make you one thing...awesome as heck. Because piercings and tattoos rock and if you've got the confidence to stand out in a world that hates, you go Glenn Coco. I salute you. Rock on and continue to inspire. This isn't just for emo kids; its for all the kids. For the Directioners who get labeled brats, homeschoolers that are said to be antisocial, and shy people who are called boring. Just be your amazing self and who gives a crap what anyone else thinks? If God approves, then you got the green light; and that's all you need. Stop judging everyone without first trying to understand them. Shut up and listen. Who knows, you might just find that you were wrong all along.
(I am not even sorry.)