"Ali-Jae." 7/22/13. Pencil and pen on newsprint. 8x13".
“Ali-Jae.” 7/22/13. Pencil and pen on newsprint. 8×13″.

I sat next to Ali-Jae in fifth grade science class. She knew who No Use For a Name and Ten Foot Pole were, which – of course – automatically made her the coolest person that ten year-old Sam had ever met.

About ten years later, somebody told me: “Ali-Jae is a Republican and a Christian now.”

I thought they were fucking with me! But it was true! I figured it was some kind of a weird phase; it’d only be a matter of time before she snapped out of it and went back to normal.

But she didn’t… Instead, she became a major obstacle in my endeavors to brand all Republicans as soulless destroyers of human life and (to a lesser extent) all Christians as passive and thoughtless. There was just no way to reconcile her existence with my ideas. Eventually, I had to grow up (just a little bit) and change the way I thought about other human beings.

Which is bullshit, man. (Life is so much easier in black and white).

Oh well – it’s still cool. People are people, I guess.


Speaking of which…

The final lyric in this song (“People” by Andrew Jackson Jihad) – “I have faith in my fellow man and I only hope he has faith in me” – (I think) is wonderful. At least in an aspirational sense. It’s not too far off from something I wrote in my statement for “Tola’s Approach to Demons”:

I don’t believe in evil. I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as bad people. I have to think that way ’cause if I’m wrong, then I’m most certainly evil (I’m definitely a bad person). But I try really hard. So I give other people the benefit of the doubt. If someone does something fucked up, I choose to believe that they’re doing their best. (Their best just happens to be pretty terrible relative to average/acceptable standards). I try to keep that in mind whether we’re talking about some asshole on the sidewalk or someone like that kid that shot up Sandy Hook. It’s hard to give everyone that credit – that empathy – but I try. In return, I hope to get the same.

Humanity (as well as perception) are at the heart of a lot of Jihad songs. In “This is Not a War” (a song about the Occupy movement), Sean sings: “There is no enemy, there’s only dummies that also love their families.” And the refrain they’ve used more than any other is: “It’s harder to be yourself than it is to be anybody else.” So long as I remember to give that to other people at least as often as I give it to myself, that’s… – it’s not a bad mantra.


(Somebody help me out… I could’ve sworn that lyric was used in a song before “Distance” and “Big Bird” but now I’m doubting myself).

Say somethin'.