By J. Strauss


The generation that followed my own, and there have been several now, rejected the music of my youth. Rock and roll was just coming in as I was just coming in on this planet. When it came time for a new generation to gain age and importance enough to have a real voice I was stunned that rock and roll was not only out but viewed as something of an ancient deformed of tonal sounds.

And then I was forced to think about swing and the big band era. My parent’s time and music. I was in as full a rejection bloom over their music as the new generation was over what I considered my own. Along comes hip-hop and rap to displace harder stuff and the younger people into that reject everything before.

It’s not about music.

When I was ten years old I was attending a Catholic school in Duluth, Minnesota called Sacred Heart. The Benedictine nuns, in their black and white costumes would be considered brutal today and no doubt barred from teaching if not in prison. Yes, they hit us all the time and devised other arcane punishments for sins of a lessor sort. During class one day a parish priest came to talk to my 5th grade class. A parish priest was a lower form of God to the nuns so he had full control while he was there. After a sermon, lecture and more, he opened the class up to questions. He made it clear that any question about faith, God, religion or whatever would be fielded with intelligence, acceptance and intellect. The other 5th grader’s were totally intimidated but I was fooled by the nice young man’s smile and casual manner. I raised my hand and asked him a question that had been plaguing me for some time. I mumbled out three questions but they were really all the same one:
“Why, when I got here was everything already taken? ”
“Why was everything already owned? ”
“Why didn’t I have anything that was mine?”

Sister Mary Paul appeared as if out of nowhere at my side. Without comment from either her or the kindly seeming parish priest I was escorted in silence to the cloak room where I spend the remainder of the class. I was never informed of my violation and when the bell rang I was free, never to discuss the issue again.

Human beings spend a good deal of their lives in that metaphorical cloakroom, not from asking difficult questions that have no good or fair answers (other than “that’s the way it is.”) but from living lives where they have nothing, or next to nothing and having nowhere to go and no one to get answers from that make any sense.

There is absolutely no good reason at all that kids being born outside Mombasa, Kenya (to name one place of thousands) will have no chance at any education at all, and will have so little in the way of food, clothing, shelter or medical care that they will take whatever talents, and they can be quite remarkable, to an early grave. That is happening all over the world simply because it is the way things have developed. Survival of the fittest not only determines survivors it determines the prey the survivors kill and feed off of even if that prey is not killed in a slaughter house and eaten for dinner in a fine restaurant.

Rock and roll, and the changing music of changing generations is simply analogous of what mindsets must be held by successive generations coming of age when everything is already owned, when there is nothing for them. You may observe the same indicative phenomenon making its presence felt in other areas you might never view as generationally determined for survival. Automobile design and sales is one of them. The newest generation coming of age does not care about powerful, sleek and expensive cars anymore. The motor magazines, showrooms and bottom lines of the manufacturer’s stuck in time will all face a creeping extinction unless they change to accommodate new life. You rarely, if ever see a young person on a Harley Davidson. Goodbye Harley, one day down the road.

The newer generation is showing a proclivity for living in smaller better designed homes so watch for big lonely places on estate property to begin to fade. And it’s all about rock and roll and what the passing of generations, where what is owned (everything) is also passed on only to the direct survivors of that generation, thereby continuing and assuring these sweeping changes which are indicative of only one thing. That ‘thing’ is a brutal, rarely spoken of and often lied about continuing struggle for life and any comfort during that life. We can make it better but, as usual with science and so much more, we can’t make it better if we simply continue to make believe it’s not the situation or that since we have a modicum of stuff and comfort that it’s perfectly okay for most of humanity to lack such things.

The next time you listen to your music, even if it is while you read this, think about what it all means and what you might do simply by knowing what you know and caring about it.

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