In the more than twenty-five years since I first heard U2’s Bad, no single song had caused me so much strife.
At once a protest against moving on and a prayer that one might someday be able to do so, the song seems about one thing always: conflict.
Bono’s hymn that describes troubles has at different times represented (to me) the Troubles.
From upon the carousel of time, the peace preached here seemed golden ring: Elusive, approaching, just passed, and due to come again.
The way this song talks of surrender goes from cowardly, to threatening, to heroic, to spiritual.
Bad asks more than it reveals.
Where’s the courage in a white flag? But then where’s the courage in a bomb or rubber bullet?
And then there’s that declaration.
Wide awake. I’m wide awake. I’m not sleeping.
Does the lack of sleep represent an unwillingness to be fooled? Does it signify an Awakening?
Perhaps we’re not to know.
Bad was released way back when not knowing was actually OK. The question was the offering. Itself a declaration of learning yet to come.
Today, we fear not knowing almost more than knowing something unpleasant.
It’s for this reason that we are so quick to jump to conclusions, so quick to assign blame and vilify.
In this way, the Troubles have passed, but the troubles remain.
Can we work to embrace the question without needing the answer?
One hope so, for the journey… that’s the promise. (Even if, while stuck in the in between of not knowing, one often feels that they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.)