22 Albums That Changed My Life (Part 3)

So we went through the albums that shaped my teenage and early adulthood years — now here come the stuff that shaped me as a grown-up.  Note that these span longer years than the earlier eras, because as an adult my palate has already been formed and it became harder to …

Song Reflections: System of a Down “Deer Dance”

This is a sobering song.  I listen and be humbled, and in that humbling feeling I find a sense of relief. Being proud and arrogant takes a lot of energy to keep up the pretense.  There is a relief in admitting that we fall short.  We make mistakes, we fail, we disgrace ourselves.

Here is a very angry and political song, but at the core of it, it makes us face our weakness, our tendency to try and get away with taking advantage of other people.  When you know they can’t fight back, you know you won’t get caught.

I’m a Japanese living in US, two countries that have history of invading other countries, appropriating what they have and shoving its own culture down other communities’ throat.  But on a more micro-scale, I’m a father.  And as much as I love my children, I often feel the temptation to get away with things I wouldn’t dare pull off in front of other adults.  If I was a true man of integrity, I’d uphold the principles and values I intend to impart on my children — but when it’s inconvenient or when I am feeling frustrated then I may give in and pull something on my own kids.  Something I wouldn’t do if I really thought I could get caught.

Which relates to the idea of bullying.  Bullying may be an evil act but that doesn’t necessarily make bullies evil people.  They are carrying their angst and frustrations and are without resources to fight off the temptations of the situations where they won’t get caught or hurt. You could even argue that an entire country or government may be the same — certain groups of people within may be in a situation where they can’t and won’t fight off the temptation.   It does not excuse or justify their actions, but it helps us realize something important.

Some acts have more dire consequences than others, but even if our transgressions are of forgivable sort — we need to own up to the fact that we fall prey to these temptations.  We need to become aware, repent, ask for forgiveness, and seek to improve.  I believe that these growth won’t occur while we’re spending our energy keeping up the pretense of being high and lofty.

So I listen to songs like Deer Dance, and wonder if or when I have “pushed the weak around” myself.  And be humbled.

Fair to Midland: Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True

I’ve been thinking about these guys a lot since they’re coming to St. Paul this Thursday (March 24, 2011).  Ever-cryptic Fair to Midland is a fascinating and talented alternative metal band from Texas, one of the best of young indie acts I’ve heard. What makes them so good? Well, to …

Happiness Lies in Unchained Emotions

I just learned that happiness doesn’t necessarily mean feeling happy. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re feeling happy, then you are happy. Be happy! Celebrate! But you may be experiencing other types of emotions, and still feel “happy.” Perhaps the word “happiness” is problematic here. You can be “joyful,” “content,” …