IT’S ALL JUST A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY REPEATING…BUT CHANGE IS ACOMING.
It's Saturday the 12th November 2016, approximately 21:12 in the evening and my flat screen TV is blasting out the not so subtle tones of President-elect Donald Trump. He is standing beside Brexit’s flag bearer - a certain Mr Nigel Farage - in a golden lift as they celebrate the triumph of winning their respective elections. They talk of the “little man winning” and about “real people”, with their tailored suits, Chesire cat like grins and unusual hairstyles.
As I write this, I feel a little bit of sick come up from my mouth, a tension in my shoulders that can only be described as anger and the words coming out of my mouth to my wife (or anyone who’ll listen, I’m a talker you see) “oh man, I think we’re f**ked”. I, and I’m sure many others, are genuinely terrified of what these sorts of people bring to the table. Fascism, sexism, and that damn wall. It’s all in there, warts (and his tiny little fingers) and all.
Trump believes global warming is a “myth”, which you will probably know unless you’ve lived on Mars the past year (Mars? Also probably a “myth”). “It’s just weather” he protests, the wind blowing on his slappable face.
It’s pretty grim right now, perhaps as grim as it’s ever been. Part of me understands why people voted for Trump despite all of his insane claims, petty squabbles and undoubtable rancid attitude to immigration, woman and all in between. Trump and Farage say some outlandish things about change, which is what people want; Hilary Clinton, David Cameron, Ed Miliband were all part of something nobody really connects with – ‘the establishment’. The claim that Donald Trump alone, can bring about change to a country as vast as America is something people have generally took in. That’s right, Donald Trump believes he can revive a nation and build community by building walls to keep folk out. Also, he can do this community building all on his own. Solely him. The American Dream. Animal bloody Farm. History is repeating itself and fear has, so far won the day.
However…let me fast forward to Sunday 13th November. Its 17:07 and I’ve just skipped out of my complaints job onto my voluntary work with Sea Shepherd. We have been asked to cover Architects most recent UK tour, and tonight the post-metalcore outfit have hit Glasgow’s O2 ABC. Since the dawn of time music has always had a strong, vibrant way of communicating a message to the masses in a way they understand it. A way they can enjoy it. Nobody does this better than Sam Carter and his band Architects.
I was still reeling from the previous night, and still wondering when this Brexit thing is actually going to happen. I walked up the stairs to be met by lead volunteer and Sea Shepherd chief, Rob. Setting up the table, we watch the band sound check whilst we share our recent life tales. It had been a solid 6 months since we last had a good sit down chat, and we always seem to have a similar mind-set (which if you’ve met Rob, is a definite compliment that I’ve given myself there). A few position changes of the table later and the doors are open. A sold out ABC filled out as quickly as I’ve seen with everyone from the age of carefree 16 year olds, to the 30-year-olds like me with a mortgage and adult-like worry about the world we were now living in, who had grown up with the band.
Now it's been a while since I've worked in retail, so when a bunch of teenagers jumped onto the Sea Shepherd stall for a glimpse of what merch we had on sale, I must admit I didn’t know if I was out of practice, or we really had a solid fan base. But the opposite side of our merch table was pretty full. “How much for a Jolly Rodger shirt?” “I love you guys!” and “Keep doing what you do, I love what you do for the oceans” were just a few comments thrown at us as I tried to cope with the demand of sales. You see, Sea Shepherd has built up a pretty big presence in the metal and punk scene. Parkway Drive, Heaven Shall Burn, Billy Talent and Rise Against have all been spotted in Sea Shepherd merchandise or talking about us at length.
First band of the night, Stick to Your Guns are a band that I must admit I was not acutely aware of, but the name rang a bell. It didn’t take them long to win me over though as they talked about the dreamers that never give up on the world. About how this generation is the world’s last line of defence. With each passing statement he made about the state of our world, I heard a cheer raise up and the odd fist in the air. Each fist different, each united.
As Sam later dedicates a song to the work of Sea Shepherd, faces glance round at us and we give the thumbs up. Another roar of appreciation sounds across the room as he goes deeper into the world’s problems and how to stick together during them, to come out of the other side not covered in too much of the mess of the decisions made last week, and the weeks and years before that. Merchandise wise, we’ve already sold out of medium and large shirts and I’m moving like I’ve had more than the one Red Bull that day to try and serve everyone in ample time.
What strikes me most though is this; everyone wants to talk. Everyone wants to talk positive. Because this generation seems to give a shit when they see wrong doing. They all believe in Sea Shepherd, Architects, Stick to Your Guns and the message of being “in this together”. The message given by artists and the work of companies like Sea Shepherd have opened hearts, minds and built a pure solidarity these kind of rich, lonely, self-absorbed millionaires wish they had.
These people are not just in this room either: they are spread about across continents, countries, cities and towns. They are in your street, in your home, at your work and in your phone book. Because in grassroots bands like Architects, in grassroots organisations like Sea Shepherd, that’s where you find these “real people”, Mr Farage and Mr Trump. This is where you find real community and real change. Where struggle, heartbreak, hard work, music and art are made. This is when we pull together. This is when we become stronger. This is where our voice becomes their voice and their voice ours. This is where the “little guys” go to come together as one. This is where community is built, where we don’t care about blame, where we don’t care about winning but instead being together, making that positive change, having a voice and doing what is right for the Earth, the planet, the animals, the humans and our future generations.
Architects newest single ‘Downfall’ asks “What’s it going to take to get us to stand up?”, and I think of tonight’s evidence of community and passion for making a change to humans, animals and the earth. Maybe Trump's victory was a catalyst. Here we have started making a stand. By God I can feel it.
You’ve got your 4 years Don, my friend and you, your 15 minutes of fascist fame Nigel, but history shows that the people always come back stronger and louder. History shows we come back together and see you for what you all are. There’s a reason governments should always be scared of their people and not the other way around, and this generation is the most forward thinking, caring and toughest yet. I saw it on that Sunday, in the words that they use and the art that they make. They exist and you should be scared.
Our generation has to deal with some massive amount of shit right now, but it's a generation that gives a damn and believes in righting the wrongs of yesterday.
Change is yet to come, and despite the self-loving priviledged men telling us they won it for the “little man” and that they alone will repair the community that is our world...when that change does come? It’s going to be the sweetest.