One of my favorite bands, Shinedown, recently released their latest single, “Bully“. Upon first listen, I was not too impressed. It seemed a bit too typical of what to expect from anti-bully lyrics. But maybe that’s just what we need right now. Something typical. A string of words that will give listeners the necessary fight and strength to push forward. This world has enough simplistic songs. Maybe Shinedown was just the first band to realize that, when it comes to bullying, what we all need right now is not some catchy melody. We need words of meaning. We need honesty. We need a reason to believe. We need hope.
It’s 8 AM
This hell I’m in
Seems I’ve crossed the line again
For being nothing more than who I am.
Walk through any high school hallway. As kids rush to class, they all pass by one another and exchange but the briefest of glances. Yet, in those two to three seconds of eye contact, peers size up their classmates.
So break my bones and throw your stones.
We all know that life ain’t fair
But there’s more of us
All it takes is two or three seconds to make someone feel unworthy, as though they’re not enough. The best friend I ever had in high school, who is still my best friend to this day, earned my friendship because he did not care how other people saw me, and I would like to think that I earned his for the same reason; he saw me for who I was and that was enough. It was just the two of us, but somehow that small number surmounted to more strength and power than any judgmental clique had in that high school.
All you’ll ever be is the fading memory of a bully
Make another joke, while they hang another rope
It doesn’t end when high school ends. And I am naïve if I allow myself to write that every person in this world is either victim or bully. We have all played both roles. And we’re lying when we say this isn’t so. But, for some reason, high school seems to be when it hurts the worst. And this shouldn’t be the case.
Whenever I see black and blue,
I feel the past, I share the bruise.
With everyone whose come and gone,
My head is clear, my voice is strong.
These kids in high school, they’re only teenagers. If they don’t yet know who they themselves are, how can they judge you for who you claim to be at this stage of your life? They’re only teenagers. The people who take the time to judge and criticize, those kids who have no right to ever judge another individual for trying to find himself/herself when they should be doing the same, are not worth the time or effort.
Your voice is strong.
Now right the wrong.
And it is with these powerful words that Shinedown brings “Bully” to a close. Children in the background literally shout, “We don’t have to take this back against the wall. We don’t have to take this, we can end it all.” And, together, we can end it all. High school does not have to be as hard as it is lately. I wish I knew the solution, and I could just type up some formulaic method that willing readers would accept and abide by, but it’s not that simple. You can’t force someone to stop being a bully. You can’t control anyone, or their actions. But you can control yourself. You can rise above it. You can influence a generation of children. You can try to stop the suffering. You can make a difference. As Shinedown screams, “Your voice is strong. Now right the wrong.”
*All lyrics courtesy of “Bully,” by Shinedown