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February 29, 2008

Nickelback and The Cry For Meaning


If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
We'd see the day when nobody died

~ Nickelback, If Everyone Cared, 2007

My daughter introduced me to the song “If Everyone Cared," released in early 2007 by Canadian rockers Nickelback. Nominated for a Grammy award in 2008, the song is about hope through caring. The band is donating the proceeds from the song to charity.

The song and video pay tribute to the fact that one person can make a difference in the world. The video is well done. I encourage you to watch and listen. It features footage from humanitarians who have stood for peace.

I applaud the message that one person can change the world. History has proven it. I think of William Wilberforce and his campaign to abolish the slave trade and change the moral ethos of England.

The song resonates with a deeper message, however. It is the message of meaning. Everyone seeks meaning. We are driven by a longing to connect to something bigger and transcendent. It is woven into each of our souls. Many pursue causes in search of meaning. Causes are great. But at the end of the day, they are just causes. Without a greater narrative to connect to, they don’t sustain and they don’t last. They come and go. The concert Live Aid in 1984 is a good example of that. It raised millions and purchased food for thousands of Africans. Yet, world hunger remains.

Nickelback’s moving lyrics remind us of the brokenness of the world by longing for something different, a world where “nobody cried” and “nobody died." Sound familiar? It should.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
~ Revelation 21:4

Real lasting transformation comes through someone who cares and demonstrated it. His name is Jesus Christ. In Christ, we join our story to the grand story of redemption and restoration. In Christ, we find redemption. In Christ, we are transformed. In Christ, we learn how to love and care and push back the darkness.

The haunting cry for something real and lasting comes through in the echoes of Nickelback's lyrics:

Singing Amen I'm alive
Singing Amen I'm alive

Real life and transcendent meaning are found in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

(Image © Nickelback)

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This band reminds me of our next generation (20 somethings) who cry for moral victory, are particularly sensitive to any hypocricy yet can quickly become overwhelmed with how small the world has become and the real opportunities this small world presents. We as the generation(s) that have gone before them should remind them that they can and that they will make a difference for Christ because they are uniquely able.

Rolley Haggard

The same “cry for meaning” can also be found in the lyrics of despair. My first real taste of that in the popular culture was from Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again, Naturally”:

In a little while from now,
If I'm not feeling any less sour
I promised myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower,
And climbing to the top,
Will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it's like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch, at a church
Where people 're saying,
"My God that's tough, she stood him up!
No point in us remaining.
May as well go home."
As I did on my own,
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday,
I was cheerful, bright and gay,
Looking forward to, but who wouldn't do,
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down,
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch,
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt,
All about God and His mercy
For if He really does exist
Why did He desert me
In my hour of need?
I truly am indeed,
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that
There are more hearts
Broken in the world
That can't be mended
Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Now looking back over the years,
And what ever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to have cried the tears
And at sixty-five years old,
My mother, God rest her soul,
Couldn't understand, why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart
So badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

To the wrenching cry, silence can be the cruelest response. Jean Paul Sartre testified bitterly, “I prayed, I demanded a sign. I sent messages to Heaven, no reply. Heaven ignored my very name. Each minute I wonder what I could BE in the eyes of God. Now I know the answer: nothing. God does not see me, God does not hear me, God does not know me. You see this emptiness over our heads? It is God. You see this gap in the door? It is God. You see that hole in the ground? That is God again. Silence is God. Absence is God. God is the loneliness of man."

I forget the song, but the lyrics were dark. They went, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”


“Is this aching in the heart
Just the start
Of another futile prayer
To the air?”

Or is it the Lord Himself saying, “come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”?

“God has spoken to us in His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Angelise Anderson

Great post. That is one of my current favorite songs!

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