We Didn’t Start The Fire
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Politics and Activism

We Didn’t Start The Fire

Updating the Billie Joel classic with the struggles of the modern world.

We Didn’t Start The Fire
The Odyssey

The other day I was out on a run in Golden Gate Park, listening to my iPod. Now, ordinarily, this is a normal occurrence and there would be nothing of note to report but that’s not the case with this particular run. Listening to one of my playlists I came across a song that struck a particular chord with me. The song is the Billie Joel hit ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ a list of the major events, figures, and phenomena over the course of his life at the time and how these spill across generations. The song is catchy and it's fun to try and pick out all the events you can identify that he sings about. But that’s not what caught my attention. What captured my interest was the undercurrent of frustration and a hint of anger that characterizes the way he sings, it’s the aggravation of being blamed for things that are beyond his control, it’s the cry of the young to the accusations of the old. As a young person living today, I identify quite strongly with that feeling and see it in many of my fellow millennial’s.

I began to wonder as I ran what would that song be like if it was updated for modern events and anxieties.

Bush-Gore Recount, Twin Towers, Americans in Afghanistan

Persian Gulf, Chicken hawks, Hurricane Katrina

There isn’t much that I personally remember from the beginning of the century but its events continue to shape my life. We all are living in the shadow of the twin towers; its effects haunt us 16 years later. It made us a nation at war that doesn’t seem to remember it’s at war. I’ve lived most of my adult life this way and the idea that there was ever a time when we weren’t fighting a country, or bombing a country, or thinking about bombing a country is strange to me. Strange too is the idea of a whole country going to war, every family contributing and every community feeling the effects.

We didn’t start this fire, its always been burning, but we are trying to fight it.

Dark Knight, Harry Potter, Hunger games

Wall Street, Lehman bros, Fanny May and Freddie Mac

Barack Obama, Bailout, Banks won't be the same

The late 2000’s and early 2010’s come into clearer focus for me as I can distinctly recall the various events as they occurred although I would take a few years before I fully understood their importance. If we live under the shadow of the twin towers then I don’t what to know what we are living with under the legacy of the great recession. The Wall Street crash and collapse of the housing market has finished many of us off before we could even start. Our hopes for a future better than our parents were dealt a cruel blow and now we’d be lucky if we can just break even. The mounting pressures of low wages, student debt, and decreasing job security make promises of achieving an American dream or pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps ring hollow, the promises of either naïve older generations or conniving elites. Despite this though we remain undaunted and are trying to find our own economic place in the world.

We didn’t start this fire, its always been burning, but we are trying to fight it.

White fright, alt-right, tiny hands, Chirac

Build a wall, lock her up, Glass ceiling fights back

Travel bans and twitter wars, I can't take it anymore

As if the war on terror wasn’t enough, as if the crash wasn’t enough, and as if the crappy job market wasn’t enough, along came 2016. Each of the above catastrophes we could have survived on our own. Heck, we could have taken all of them, were tougher than we look and certainty smart enough to find a solution. But 2016 is perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back. That year saw perhaps the greatest rise and fall of millennial hopes to date. I could go into detail about the election but I don’t want to because better voices than I have already devoted countless lines of type to it and I’m too tired to keep fighting that battle. If I could describe my current thoughts on the world it’s like watching a house burn down and know one seems to know what to do and they all just run around aimlessly. It’s all rather depressing stuff, but the world is still turning and a new day comes. We'll get over this eventually and get on with the business of life.

We didn’t start this fire, its always been burning, but we are trying to fight it. And when we are gone it will still burn on and on.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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