14 thoughts on “Ethics Message of the Week: Henry Rollins

  1. Ah yes. I believed all of these things when I was a young person. Then I came to realize that monastic devotion to the pursuit of ones dreams is an infinitely more difficult thing to pull off when your every waking moment is concerned with meeting life’s barest material and psychological necessities.

    Forgive the possibly-misplaced cynicism, but I’m just not one to take inspirational messages at face value. They may be good advice, but they carry a set of unspoken assumptions, which prevent them from being as universal as how they present themselves.

    • I don’t disagree. Things like this, I think, are necessary counterbalance to all the gloomy OWS nihilism coming at the young from every direction. It’s a Hallmark card, but the holistic message has validity. Too late for us, though.

      • So you’re saying I can’t still work hard and achieve my dreams? Well thanks, Jack. Just how young did I have to be to receive this Hallmark card? (My indignation here is, of course, tongue-in-cheek)

        • But Bill, even for Henry Rollins there were circumstances, among which was a solidly middle class upbringing. He had enough resources at the age of 25 to create his own record label and publishing company. I’m not saying that he didn’t work hard to get there and to sustain it, but a man with no start-up capital, no matter how hard a worker, wouldn’t have done the same.

          • Ed, I agree that the opening is off-putting, and has OWS-like vibes. It almost killed the video for me, but I think the rest was on the money. I think the class warfare intro was completely unnecessary.

          • I wouldn’t call being raised by a single mother in DC at the time a solid middle class up bringing. As for the start up capital that was all earned by him from being in the band Black Flag. Hulu also need to remember when he was in bands in the early 80s the music they were playing wasn’t raking in the millions it brings in today for bands playing the same style of music.

          • I left something out sorry. I do admit that while he had it rough coming up in the music scene at the time he didn’t come out of a poor or poverty class. While some people may have been telling him he couldn’t do things the music scene in DC at the time was very supportive of people with talent.

            • The music scene in DC at the time was itself a circumstance of his early life. So was meeting the other members of Black Flag. The world is full of people with talent and drive who don’t have that talent recognized by anyone in a position to provide it with an outlet. I just feel that inspirational messages like the above unfairly imply that the only explanation there could be for a person’s frustrated ambitions is that he didn’t work hard enough.

              • I completely agree. Young kids to be taught that you can bust your ass and still fail. I was lucky that I was taught that no matter what you do failure is always a possible outcome and I better be ready for it.

                • Old article, but hey, why not? Not to refute your points, but I know that this “work hard, might fail” attitude has so adversely effected so many people. That’s not just from abstract studies, but I saw it growing up and continuing in my adult life (i.e.,a bit of time now). People would actually say, quite frankly, “what’s the point?” and get a job at a cafeteria or Walmart. Or go on the dole. They were totally risk-averse to the point of lethargy. Interestingly enough, in many of them it inculcated an attitude of resentment and envy toward those even mildly successful.

                  Ever been hit with the phrase “you think you’re better than everyone else”? I have. And a few of those instances were because I was going to college, had a job, and lived on my own…all at the same time.

                  I think Jack said it above that the nihilism and depressive determinism of those who never attempt anything hear the message “you might still fail” and thus decide to never try. For those punk bands who made it out ahead financially, it took years of hard work as businesses and in their craft. We often forget that a lot of the artists/musicians/businesses that fail tend to do so not because of “unseen forces” like “capitalism”, but because of irresponsibility, lack of education, and often, lack of proper attitude. Or as Bad Brains said – the PMA. Or what Ian MacKaye termed the “straight edge” (he meant no distractions like drugs, etc., rather than the “no beer, drugs, sex, meat, cheese” thing it’s become now.

                  Conversely, those who blame “capitalism” for their failings don’t realize that people like Rollins and the DC scene succeeded because of capitalism: they worked hard, knew their goals, and perhaps most importantly, loved what they were doing.

                  So yeah, kids need to listen to more Rollins. (Sonny and Henry both.)

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