Rush – Heresy

All around that dull grey world
From Moscow to Berlin
People storm the barricades
Walls go tumbling in

The counter-revolution
People smiling through their tears
Who can give them back their lives
And all those wasted years?
All those precious wasted years
Who will pay?

All around that dull grey world
Of ideology
People storm the marketplace
And buy up fantasy

The counter-revolution
At the counter of a store
People buy the things they want
And borrow for a little more
All those wasted years
All those precious wasted years
Who will pay?

Do we have to be forgiving at last?
What else can we do?
Do we have to say goodbye to the past?
Yes I guess we do

All around this great big world
All the crap we had to take
Bombs and basement fallout shelters
All our lives at stake

The bloody revolution
All the warheads in its wake
All the fear and suffering
All a big mistake
All those wasted years
All those precious wasted years
Who will pay?

– Rush – “Heresy” – Roll the Bones (1991)

I’ve never been a big Rush fan.  Not for any easily definable reason, I just haven’t really listened to much of them.  I own only one album (CD to you whippersnappers, and collection of MP3s to you even younger whippersnappers) of theirs, the little bally-hooed Roll the Bones.  Not being a Rush fan, I never really made it past the first three songs on the album, each of which I enjoyed in various ways.  

Well, I’ve been listening to this album in totality for the past couple of days.  And I have to say it’s better than I thought it was at first listen.  If I were to give a reason to dislike Rush, I could list ideology or theology – but that’s not a reason not to listen to someone, whether they’re a talented group of musicians or the person in the next cubicle.  If anything, it’s a reason to listen closer.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.
The above song is nice both lyrically as well as instrumentally.  I like the bitter overtones of futility, of our true inability to control much of anything in our lives.  It’s an honest song, that sounds like it was almost wrenched unwillingly out of the singer.  Is this all we can do?  Is this our only option?  Is this the closest we can come to payment?  
No, we can’t repay anyone.  For anything, really, outside of a purely monetary exchange, and it could easily be argued that even that is inadequate and symbolic at best.  We have no recourse to  injustice within ourselves, other than attempting to stop the injustice, and punish the perpetrators in hopes that they – and others – won’t repeat the injustices.  But history shows that this is ineffective at best. Deterrence is apparently rather minimal.  
To think of all the years lost in slavery, whether to political and social repression, to material consumption, to fear – those years can never be regained, can never be handed back.  They are simply what they are.  Forgiveness is the only real option, because without forgiveness, we just spiral lower in our brutality towards those who have hurt us, which in turn spawns a new wave and generation of brutality.  We don’t have the capacity to repay the sorts of debts that we and others incur daily.  We can’t even really forgive, not on our own, not without help.  
I like it when people are honest with themselves, even if that honesty isn’t able to take into account a fuller perspective, a perspective that does provide hope, that does provide a source for forgiveness.  The honesty of despair is the first step towards honest hope.

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