"People" by AJJ
"People are wasteful, they waste all the food
People are hateful, and people are rude
But god I love some people sometimes
Because people are very, very special
And people are impatient, they don’t know how to wait
People are selfish, people are prone to hate
But god I love some people sometimes
Because people are the greatest thing to happen
People are people regardless of skin
People are people regardless of creed
People are people regardless of gender
People are people regardless of anything
People are my religion because I believe in them
People are my enemies and people are my friends
I have faith in my fellow man
And I only hope that he has faith in me."
WHERE’S THE MEANING?
In this masterfully singable song by AJJ, the generalized notion of people is inspected and admonished. While the lyrics address a range of social issues, the song’s emotion is equal parts blight and hope.
The song begins by addressing world hunger, and the ironic reality of food scarcity in some parts of the world and the propensity for people to waste food in others. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted.” This amounts to around 1.3 billion tons of food wastage!
In the next stanza, the lead singer, Sean Bennette, discusses another belief that he has about people’s propensities - the propensity toward hatred. In our modern, social media era, it's easier than ever to find dark, hate-filled digital content on the internet ostensibly intended to spread hate and dilute truth. This dark aspect is exacerbated by the additional reality that whether it be it on Twitter or Facebook, people with similar interests are congregating all around the web, and these internet silos have a real and tangible influence on our society.
Recently it was found that Twitter was promoting a hashtag from a hate group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, that currently clocks in at around 72,000 followers. It’s numbers like this that raise questions about social media’s cultural impact. Another example is recent FBI data that claims: “in November 2016, there were over 5,800 total hate crimes in 2015 – a roughly six percent increase over 2014” and that “the violent attacks against Muslims in 2015 reached their highest point since 2001.” Bennette may have been on to something when he was singing about people and their hateful persuasions.
The closing stanzas address people of different colors, creeds, and genders on equal footing, as all are people. After touching on the connectivity and sameness of people, AJJ expresses faith in his fellow man. This hopeful outlook on the world reminds us that many are also optimistic even in the face of negative externalities and outwardly pessimistic online behavior. According to Giving USA’s report regarding charitable giving in 2017 “American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016.” While monetary donations don’t always translate into good intentions, numbers like these indicate that there is a capacity for good in people.
AJJ’s hopeful message of equality and tolerance serves as an example for us all in our day-to-day lives. If we are unable to maintain faith in people’s capacity for good, then all we will see in them is evil. AJJ suggests that this devolution into pessimism isn’t a solution to the problems plaguing our society. We must keep our heads up and believe in our fellow people and perhaps they will reciprocate that faith and tolerance in kind.
- Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.
- Unfortunately, this rise in hate speech on social media has coincided with a rise in hate crimes. In 2015, there were over 7,000 victims of hate crimes in the U.S., and nearly 60 percent of those were targeted due to their race, ethnicity, or ancestry.
- Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $281.86 billion, rising 3.9 percent (2.6 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2016.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
AJJ is a folk punk band from Phoenix that formed in 2004. Many of their songs cover themes like existentialism, social anxiety, politics, and activism. In 2016 they changed their name from "Andrew Jackson Jihad" to AJJ (a moniker that many of their fanbase had been using to refer to them for several years). In a statement on the bands website, Bonnette wrote "1.) We are not Muslims, and as such, it is disrespectful and irresponsible for us to use the word jihad in our band’s name. 2.) We no longer wish to be a living reminder of president Andrew Jackson. Interesting historical figure as he was, he was an odious person and our fascination with him has grown stale."
The SAVE FOOD initiative aims at encouraging dialogue between industry, research, politics, and civil society on food losses.
Save The Food is a national public service campaign by the Ad Council and the National Resources Defense Council to combat food waste.