“Without roots in the people, no government can avail, much less when it wants to impose its program through bloodshed and sorrow.” In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated not long after he spoke these words. Romero challenged his government to end the violence that was sweeping through his country and killing his people. He refused to be silent about the injustice that was affecting the poorer classes of El Salvador. The song “Believer” is about recognizing the pain that injustice causes and using it as a force to bring about personal and social change.
Key Lines: First things first / I’ma say all the words inside my head / I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh-ooh / The way that things have been, oh-ooh / …Singing from heartache from the pain / Take up my message from the veins / Speaking my lesson from the brain / Seeing the beauty through the… / Pain!
Questions: Who do you see standing up injustice to people who are poor? What examples of injustice do you see in our society? How can you take a stand against them?
This week’s Spirit tackles our ideas of self-image and beauty. High school can be a difficult time. A lot of personal and social changes are taking place; we’re constantly trying to fit in and fit an image of who we think we should be and who people will accept. Trying to live up to these expectations can make us act in ways that aren’t in our best interests. Alessia Cara’s song “Scars To Your Beautiful” is a song that reminds us that we’re all beautiful regardless of who might say otherwise.
Key Lyrics: But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark / You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are / And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart / No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful
Questions: What is your idea of perfection? How are your self-expectations different from social expectations? When have these expectations come into conflict? How did you handle it?
School, work, extra curricular activities—all come with expectations: that we get good grades, do a good job, and perform at the top of our game. But what do we do when the pressure builds up and challenges the expectations we have of ourselves? Something Just Like This reminds us that we don’t have to be superheroes to make ourselves and others happy.
Key Lines: She said, where’d you wanna go? / How much you wanna risk? / I’m not looking for somebody / With some superhuman gifts / Some superhero / Some fairytale bliss / Just something I can turn to / Somebody I can miss
Questions: What expectations do you have of yourself? What expectations do others have of you? When have you felt pressure to meet these expectations? How do you handle this? How do you define happiness?
In high school, moments when we feel on the outside looking in happen a lot. Everyone wants to be popular; everyone wants to be included. Often we feel socially tested, judged about everything from the people we hang out with to the very clothes we wear. It’s also a time when we determine what and who are important to us: is being popular more important than just being ourselves? Who are real friends? The song “I Am.” is a song that challenges those who want to tear us down and reminds us that we are all beautiful people.
Key Lyrics: No, no, no, don’t you dare / Who do you think you are standing there? / I’ll tell you / I am, I am, I am, I am worthy of love / Am I, am I, am I, am I strong enough?
Questions: What does popularity mean in your school? When have you given something or someone up to be popular? Why do groups act so cruelly about who is in and who is out? What does it mean to bully another person? What instances of bullying have you seen around your school or community?
Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “…any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” The news constantly confronts us with oppression based on race, gender, beliefs in our society and world. It’s important to recognize oppression and to initiate peaceful changes that ensure that everyone has equal rights to resources and education. Andra Day’s song “Rise Up” is about overcoming obstacles and oppression and finding strength in standing together to make the world a better place.
Key Lines: You’re broken down and tired / Of living life on a merry go round / And you can’t find the fighter / But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out / And move mountains / We gonna walk it out / And move mountains
Questions: What are some examples of oppression you have seen in your school and community? What about in our country and our world? How can you help combat that oppression in a peaceful way? When have you felt oppressed? Were you able to bridge the gap between you and your oppressors? How?
This week’s Spirit begins with a girl feeling how unfair life always is: she didn’t have enough toys as a child, not enough new clothes now. Everyone else has more than she does. Then she helps her brother out at a food kitchen in a poorer neighborhood and realizes that her hardships are minimal compared to others. Her eyes open up to a whole new world where fairness takes on a different meaning. She develops a new standard: everyone is deserving of compassion and kindness – no questions asked.
Key Lyrics: This life ain’t like a book / Sound and color / I wanna touch a human being / Sound and color / I want to go back to sleep / Sound and color / Ain’t life awfully strange / Sound and color
Questions: What does the idea of fairness mean to you? What do you think is unfair? How has life been fair or unfair to you? How can you change this attitude? Who affects your attitude about fairness or unfairness? Do you or your family have any holiday traditions that involve volunteering?