I’ve spoken before about the fact that our family is not in any way similar to the norms of society. We’re not the only ones, really. Most families in the world rarely reflect those norms. That’s why often those supposed “norms” are considered to be stereotypes.
In our family, some of the oddness comes from the fact that while my family is quite conservative from a religious standpoint, they are quite liberal from a political standpoint. Well, liberal with some leaning toward libertarian (personal responsibility and integrity).
I grew up listening to a lot of folk music, and yes, also a lot of what is considered “hippie” music. My parent’s favorite musical group is the Kingston Trio, so I heard quite a bit of folk and political activist music. In fact, the Kingston Trio can be said to have laid the groundwork for most of the political activist music in the 1960s and early 1970s.
So, no big surprise that I loved the following song:
What I love most about folk songs and some of the political activist songs is not only do they tell a story, but they often poke at things in society that truly do need to change. For example, P!nk’s F**king Perfect speaks not only to self-harm issues, but also to point out that sometimes, an adult has absolutely no clue what they are doing to a child’s psyche because they don’t bother to take the time to really investigate a particular issue. Alanis Morissette’s Perfect speaks to a similar issue, when focused on the issue of somehow “living through your children” and also expecting adult maturity out of a young child. That’s also present in musical theater.
In fact, growing up like that is part of why so many songs I like have a personal meaning to them, or are associated with certain people.
“One Tin Soldier,” to me, isn’t just about the Vietnam War, nor the fact that the song (as a cover by Coven) was used in the film Billy Jack. It’s about hatred, xenophobia and justification of abhorrent behavior.
I’ll admit, the song is fairly idealistic, as many of the hippies were also sometimes naively idealistic. Even with my parents being approximately the same age range of the hippies, they really weren’t. By the end of the 1960s, they had two children and had to work for a living.
But the reality of things that need to be changed is supported by the chorus of the song:
It doesn’t matter what religion you’re using to justify your behavior. If you’re ignoring doctrinal requirements of your particular faith, then you are still a hypocrite. Seeing those different from you as a demonized and stereotyped version, then you are justifying your hate.
Of the “People of the Book,” there are numerous references to love one’s fellow man. Yes, even in Islam (in my own personal reading of the Quran). The problem in all three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is in the interpretation of who one’s fellow man should be, as well as interpretations of the choices the Divine considers righteous.
In other religions, there can be misinterpretations as well. Wicca, for example, has a wide interpretation of the Rede: “An it harm none, do as thou wilt.” Sadly there are those who have a very slippery idea of what constitutes harm.
All groups — religious or not — have their unethical and immoral fringes. It is when those fringes take control that hate and harm becomes widespread.