One People, One Struggle

I don't know how many of you are punk rock fans, but I am a huge one. I was so happy when I came across this band, Anti-Flag. There Cd is amazing, and it is so nice to hear a band get out a political message. These guys are working so hard to make a better world. Please check out there web sites, and if your brave enough maybe give there music a listen too, you might be surprised.

lyrics and music by Anti-Flag, from the 2003 album The Terror State

Talking about the ideas of unity to a punk rocker is like talking about wood to a carpenter. The subject is well known, because it’s essential to how they define themselves. However, there is a difference between knowing and understanding. Carpenters build structures out of wood. Sculptors of wood see the nuances, the little imperfections, the good and the bad about the wood and use that knowledge to create. Where the carpenter’s work is considered a construction, the wood sculptors work is considered art. Where the carpenter knows about the wood, the wood sculptor understands it.

Okay, so what does all this talk about wood have to do with the subject of this song? I think it’s important to see the difference between knowing the idea of unity and understanding the idea of unity. Unity is about tolerance. It doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to differences, rather it means acknowledging those differences and working with them. Think about it this way. You know how you’ve been told since you were little that every snowflake is different? One snowflake can do very little. It falls to the ground, and there it lies. Its uniqueness melts away, and soon thereafter nothing is left. Now think about a bunch of snowflakes. All of them falling.

Each one different in its own way. If enough of them fall, things happen: schools get closed down, banks are closed, sometimes everything slows to a snail's pace. All the while these snowflakes are falling they build upon one another. Their different shapes and sizes may dictate how fast they’ll fall or how long 'til they melt, but in the long run their differences mean nothing. They work together, in unison. Now think about that fake snow that ski resorts blow on the mountains when there hasn’t been enough natural snow fall. These fake snowflakes are all the same. It kind of looks like snow, but it’s all cookie cutter. They work in unison, to help skiers and snowboards get down the slopes, but it’s not the same as the natural snow.

Right now you’re probably thinking... “Okay, what’s the point?” The point is that unity thrives on tolerance for difference. Government programs such as COINTELPRO aim to breed intolerance. They infiltrate social movements and attempt to undermine the progress by using intimidation and blackmail. They stifle the message by causing disruption from within. These methods aren’t exclusive to government programs either. These are the same results that terrorist organizations seek. When you’re busy questioning those around you it’s hard to make any progress. Just as waving a flag won’t stop terrorism, throwing around the word unity won’t create progress without tolerance. Only through tolerance and cohesive work will social progress be made. There is no better time than the present to start working towards that goal.

by Jake Reinhart, Nov. 2003

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