‘The world is full of kings and queens
Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams’
Yesterday, while on the bus to Pieta`, I saw these two lines written on a wall. They rang a bell in my mind, somehow, and I googled them when I got home. Turns out they are a quote from a song by one of my favourite bands. The band in question is Black Sabbath, and the quote comes from their famous song Heaven and Hell (1980).
Black Sabbath, which as everyone knows is a British rock band, was formed in the UK in 1968 and the band members are pioneers when it comes to the Heavy Metal movement. They were ranked by MTV as The Greatest Metal Band of all Time, won multitudes of awards, and even came to Malta a couple of times (unfortunately for me, I was too young to attend both times).
These two lines, written randomly on a wall, sparked my interest, as many deep lyrics do. In an age of globalisation and streamlining, one rock band dared to criticise their established government. With these two lines, they were referring to those who hold roles of leadership and who have their own agenda to pursue, and expect everyone to work with them and for them, to bring their plan to fruition. Leaders who are so targeted to achieving their goals, that they do not care that the lives and dreams of others are being sacrificed for their own.
Unfortunately, in this day and age where to keep order, some form of rule needs to be established, society is based on the order that people like this have decided is best. To choose not to live by those rules is like swimming upstream. If your political ideas differ, if your religious beliefs are different from the mainstream, if your personal opinions are different to others, you find yourself at odds with everyone.
It is a scary path to tread. Many people prefer to shut their mouths, lower their heads, and conform, rather than stand tall and proud, and really be themselves, as this may create issues and problems. Nothing of worth has ever been accomplished without somebody breaking conventions. When Aristotle challenged the established governmental structure, he was put to death. When Galileo claimed that the earth was not at the centre of the universe, he was excommunicated. When Nietzsche, the German philosopher, expressed disdain for accepted norms and beliefs, he was reviled and ostracised from society.
It often takes great strength, great initiative and great mental fortitude to be true to one’s self. Stand firm against the close-minded oppressor, hold your head high and unfurl your wings. That is the challenge of life, and the difference between being a sheep bleating amidst millions of other sheep and being an individual.
As Oscar Wilde, whom Black Sabbath were actually quoting in their song, wrote, ‘Each of us has heaven and hell in them’ – meaning that each person is capable of doing great good or great evil, if they so choose. We have the choice of living in our own private hell, by denying our true selves and living a life others choose for us, instead of the one we really want. Or else choose heaven, that is, choose to be who we really are, even though others may not understand us. In the end, I guess there is only one choice – what is most important for you; chasing your own dreams and happiness, or receiving other people’s approval?