I’m a big fan of the British rock band Muse.
I’m a little ashamed to say that nowadays because their past few albums have failed to meet my expectations. But despite my recent frustrations with the band, I was still excited by the release of their seventh studio album, ‘Drones’, which happened about a week after I arrived in Iraq.
Frontman Matt Bellamy is your typical rock star. He’s known to wear some pretty weird outfits on stage, has quite the list of famous exes, and expresses strong opinions about conspiracy theories, environmental issues, human rights, and politics. Bellamy uses his music to call out the wrongdoings of society and corrupt politicians, and to advocate for social change. For example, on ‘The 2nd Law’, Muse’s 2012 release, Bellamy tackles the subjects of Western countries’ unsustainable economies and their increasing abuse of the environment.
So I wasn’t surprised that ‘Drones’ follows a similar theme – the dehumanization of modern warfare, made possible through technological advancement.
But I was surprised that it affected me. Hard.
I listened to this album in its entirety during work, where I had to sift through footage of war – bombings, gunfire, destroyed villages.
I listened to this album while watching footage of bodies being dragged through the streets, people running for their lives, tanks rolling through abandoned towns.
The footage I had to watch for certain video projects displayed the worst of humanity right now, but the album warns about what we can become if we continue along this path. And that scares me.
Just read these lyrics:
“You’ve taught me to lie without a trace / and to kill with no remorse”
“Show me mercy / from the powers that be / show me mercy / from the gutless and mean/ show me mercy / from the killing machines / show me mercy / can someone rescue me?”
“My mind was lost in translation / and my heart has become a cold and impassive machine”
Bellamy is pleading with us to see that our advances in technology are dangerous when they allow us to disassociate ourselves from others’ humanity. After all, it’s easy to kill from a remote location, when you can’t see your enemy. It’s not messy this way, there are no feelings or guilt involved.
This album strikes a personal chord because I live in Iraq right now. I’ve met the people who’ve lived through war that my country was responsible for. I’ve laughed with these people, shared meals with them, and sat in their homes with them.
And all I can think when I watch that footage, and remember where I am, is ‘enough.’
Isn’t it time we tried a little harder to wage peace? Love, not strike, preemptively? Because if we can’t remember each other’s humanity, then why are we here? And what does that mean for our future?
So maybe eccentric, old Bellamy does have a valid point in all of this. As humans, we are so much better than that what modern warfare offers us. It’s our responsibility to remember our humanity, and not just to save each other, but to save ourselves.
-June 26, 2015