I was watching the news feeds and other sources of information coming through in an endless barrage as they do in this age of information. One of the most interesting to me was that Neil Young had given Spotify an ultimatum to choose between himself and Joe Rogan. That one caught me a bit by surprise so I began following the trajectory of the story. After all, Neil has some fun songs that I like listening to. And I’ve watched a few Joe Rogan podcasts because he usually pursues some interesting topics with openness and curiosity. For those of you who don’t know, Young gave the ultimatum over the claim that Rogan is spreading dangerous fake news. The fake news and misinformation that Rogan is supposedly spreading centers around the issue of vaccines and pandemic response. At times, some things happen that catch your attention and it takes a short while for the deeper thinking around the matter to begin. That’s the way this story unfolded for me because at first I was highly amused at how many reacted by simply saying, “Bye Neil!” Time allows other processes to take hold, and time gave me a chance to chase deeper down this rabbit hole.
Upon further opportunity to reflect on the situation, the strangeness of what was actually happening caused a long pause in how I initially reacted. I had to remember that Neil Young was born out of an era of rebellion, anti-establishment, free speech and spirit, and protest! It was what gave him his passion and birthed all of his lyrics and in fact seemed to influence his entire persona. The ultimatum at first blush seems to be more rebellion against the establishment and it would be easy to get caught up in that. Go past that first impression however and you come face to face with the fact that it represents a bear hug embrace of censorship. Putting someone out of society to silence them. Someone who speaks against the acceptable narrative in a way that threatens that narrative is now the target of a man who would have once welcomed challenging the system.
I don’t know Neil Young personally or in most other ways for that matter. He has been to me an entertainer and someone who created anthems that could loosely be adopted as a way to celebrate a personal experience in a musical way. It would be impossible for me to know exactly what he is thinking and how a massive shift of thinking could take place in the mind of a consummate anti-establishment figure like he is. When I consider that it could be some sort of a personal vendetta between Young and Rogan, my first response would be doubt as I have never seen anything about such a vendetta brewing. There has to be a force powerful enough to alter the heart and mind of someone who has practiced certain values in life for so long in such dramatic fashion. And then it struck me.
Fear is a powerful force, and I’ve seen it alter the hearts and minds of many friends and family over the past 2 years in particular. Fear has driven them to lock themselves away from the normal world that they once wandered in freely. It has driven them to sacrifice friendships and family connections by not only physical isolation, but by creating emotional and spiritual wounds in relationships which would normally represent health and joy and connection to a network of support and wellness. Fear has driven people to false saviors such as drugs and alcohol, overeating and inactivity resulting in a spiral downwards in ability to cope and face the challenges of any and all of the daily activities. These factors had been growing in our society in any case, but a global pandemic has a way of accelerating such things. Fear creates peep holes out of our bastions of safety so it is able to give you sight into the world while you watch for would be actual saviors, since you soon come to realize that the saviors of choice up to this point have done nothing to actually make your life better in any way.
It would make sense to me then that Mr. Young has fallen victim to what many in our world have fallen victim to. He found what he believes to be a savior, and seems to feel that anyone who speaks against his savior needs to be put away from all of us. He seems to fear that people who may listen to Joe Rogans podcast will somehow rise up against his new found savior. Like I said, I don’t know either to know exactly what they are thinking, but I suggest that fear is one of the only forces I know that is powerful enough to warm anyone up to the very thing they have hated all their lives.
I hope that all of us consider how fear may be changing all of us. I propose that we look for the one force even stronger than fear and incorporate that into our lives. That force, that power, that greater than all others is LOVE.
Love is so many things all in one. It is patient, kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Because love is so many things in one, it is so powerful. I know that this seems like this is just fluff that we repeat at a wedding as a part of what a couple would want for each other, but there are powerful things in this list. Any parent knows how much focus and determination it takes to be patient at times. The self control of kindness, humility and contentment is huge! Honoring others takes courage and commitment. Not being easily angered doesn’t mean that anger is always withheld. It should come out for the right reasons. Truth telling and making sure it is told is a rock solid foundation that stands against all storms. Perseverance is not for the faint of heart.
We need love to return. We need love to motivate. It is the only force I know of that can overcome fear. Cast it out. I doubt few of us think about how powerful and challenging these fluffy sounding words are when we attend a wedding. Or when we use the word LOVE. May we be up for the challenge so that fear won’t motivate us any longer.