Several weeks ago a young man named Chester Bennington made the choice to take his own life. He is the second high-profile musician to do this in a short period. In addition, in the age of 13 Reasons Why it is important as parents to understand and communicate via faith, actions and context. How is Chester’s death pertinent to us as people of faith? As Catholics? How do we begin to explain it to our children — and where was God?
I’ll start with the statement that music is influential. Our children (and we) are subject to its allure. It has been used to move people positively and negatively. Personally, I love music and have learned much from my music and my children’s music. I use it to motivate me in the gym and judging by everyone else there, it is powerful. As a parent of three young men (one is a teenager) I like to stay informed and understand who and what music my children are listening to daily. Notice I did not use the word monitor.
Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” I do not want to be that parent. Understanding is positive. The difference between understanding and monitoring is that I participate, actively listen, and investigate. I listen to the music, I listen to the words, I research the background of the band and learn who influenced them. This gives me credence when discussing the subject with my children who are knowledgeable.
Enter Linkin Park — initially a fusion of rap and rock. One could hear the pain, the raw emotion tied to the words. Chester, the lead singer, is one of the main songwriters and wrote from his life experiences. He channeled his pain, past abuses by adults, depression, and addiction, through the music resulting in a type of catharsis.
As I learned about them and listened, I became a fan. The words were speaking to me. He was an extremely talented singer and powerful wordsmith. Also, he was a husband and a father to six children. He had money and through the years had dealt positively with his depression and addictions through professional treatment. He seemed to have it all.
In wrestling internally with what Chester did, I found three lessons.
1. The first lesson is that money and fame do not slay a demon. Put another way, material things do not slay demons. Like many of us, Chester was wrestling with his demons. His demons were with him long before he was popular and had money. Demons are relentless and will take you down. Demons do not go away and have persistence. Our vigilance needs to be high. Always.
2. The second lesson is that our faith needs to be relentless. What are the tools available to you to make this happen? Prayer is key. Gratitude is key. Experience through the years has taught me that people are key. I honestly believe God puts the right people in our path when we need them. There may only be little signs, but never ignore what is right in front of you. Pray that you have the wisdom to recognize God’s signposts. As in an Agatha Christie novel, no detail is insignificant. Have a relentless faith!
3. The third lesson is that Chester is gone, but not his message. What is his message? I believe that is different for every person. What is undeniable: he brought his demons into the light. His words, the music, bear this out. Because of this I was able to channel my demons through the music. In bringing the demons into the light I could mitigate them via the tools described in point #2. Demons hate the light. They like to fester, be a secret, destroy you from the inside. I appreciate that Chester had the fortitude to do this. It is not easy and millions of dollars have been poured into therapy for the sole purpose of exposing one’s demons thus confronting them.
Finally, I want to stress communicating with your children. Seek to understand.
I am going to end this with a close a friend of mine uses.
Sleep in Peace, Wake in Joy
Copyright 2017 Peter Serzo