“When all is said and done, just cuz we were young, doesn’t mean that we were wrong.”
-Propagandhi, “Rock for Sustainable Capitalism”
When I was 15 my brother bought me a pop-punk sampler CD for Christmas, and on that CD was a song by a political punk band called Propagandhi. The song was called “And we thought nation states were a bad idea…” and it was all about the rise of neo-liberalism. It gripped me tight. It opened my eyes to a whole new type of music and expression (before that my favorite band had been the Beatles), and one line just completely spoke to how I was feeling as I was becoming a young, angry anarchist: “And I’m just a kid! Can’t believe I have to worry about this kind of shit…what a stupid world!” I sang and screamed that song in my bedroom all winter in 1995.
Ever since, I’ve had a deep connection to Propagandhi’s music. Well, actually, I think think their music isn’t very good. But there is something about their lyrics, and how they sing them that just speak to my exact feelings about the absurdity of our current society. I don’t think they’re the best band. They aren’t even my favorite band. But whenever I listen to them, I feel less lonely, more understood, and especially more grounded in why, after 13+ years, I’m still a radical.
The quote at the beginning of my post is really ringing true for me lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about my teenage years, and my education as an activist. I am so proud of who I was, of my naivety and my deep desire to be a good person. I am proud of the poems and manifestos that I would write in my notebook. I still read them sometimes and I’m actually pretty impressed. I was a pretty sharp and sensitive kid…and actually way more open to later anti-racist and feminist politics than I sometimes give myself credit for.
Just because we were young, doesn’t mean that we were wrong.
Young Jeremy, I’m so, so happy for how you’ve grown up. I’m so happy for the choices you made and the thoughts you had…because you led me to where I am now, at 27. I’ve learned a hell of a lot that you didn’t imagine then. I don’t know what you’d think of my compromises. Married. Working. Still playing video games. Still eating meat. Still driving and wearing store-bought clothes. But I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten those things you used to tell yourself, those better lives and worlds that you used to dream while bouncing the tennis ball against the garage. I’m walking the path that you found for me…and I so wish we could just spend an hour or two together. It would be so fascinating to get your opinion of all that is happening right now.
But instead, I’ll find you in the Propagandhi songs…because when I sing quietly on my walk to work, I can hear you faintly singing along.