Transcendence: Never Gonna Change

Each week, we’ll look at another example of what I call a “moment of transcendence” – a scene from a show, a passage from a book, or anything else, that I find soul-piercingly resonant: joyful, sad, awe-inspiring, terrifying, or whatever. These moments are highly subjective, so you may not feel the same way I do, but nevertheless I’ll try to convey why I find the fragment so powerful. I hope we can enjoy it together.

Very often, you’ll fall in love with a song or a story when you’re a kid, but you won’t fully appreciate it – you won’t really get it – till you’re an adult. I think that just about any art worth its salt will grow along with you.

That’s how it was with Collin Raye’s 1995 song “I Think About You,” which came out when I was ten.

It’s a country song that is feminist (yes, they exist!) – but, more broadly, it’s about fighting for change in a world that often doesn’t care. It’s sung from the perspective of a father whose outlook on world problems has shifted now that he has an eight-year-old daughter. I do not have a daughter myself – or a son – as far as I know, but as I get older, I’ve begun seeing social problems more in the way he describes.

There are a couple lines in particular:

(Click here if you can’t see the audio player.)

Every time I hear people say it’s never gonna change
I think about you
Like it’s some kind of joke, some kind of game
Girl, I think about you

It’s an indictment of cynicism.

Now, I’m cynical about some things, I admit. But I think there are two kinds of cynicism. There’s bitterness born of frustration with a broken system: the anger that comes from fighting and losing. And then there’s a darker, more complacent cynicism, an attitude of sitting back on your hands and saying, “Well, that’s just how life is.” It’s that second kind, I think, that he’s talking about here.

From a certain angle, bitter complacency can sound like wisdom. But it’s poison – and not just for us, but for future generations too. For me, these lines are an elegant reminder of what’s at stake.

So, um. That was kind of depressing for a Monday morning. Here, have a comic about dog psychology.

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