Cowboy Junkies
“The Things We Do To Each Other”

by Jim Di Gioia

June 20, 2018

Fear and hate live next door to each other. Each has its own abode, distinct and detached, fenced off and enclosed. Fear and hate are good neighbours, they respect each other’s terrain and have very cordial conversations across the fence. Every once and awhile, Fear invites Hate over to its place, mostly because fear hates being alone, frightened of unknown forces threatening to upend the social order that Fear clings to. It’s never Hate’s intention to get Fear all riled up, but the two have a symbiotic relationship that inevitably leads Fear to undergo an intense and heated transformation. The longer that the two are in each other’s company, the more Fear takes on Hate’s fiery vitriol and irrationality. The more Hate sits at Fear’s table, the harder it is for Hate to get up and go back home. Hate becomes sedentary, fixed in place, refusing to budge, not because it doesn’t want to, but mostly because it doesn’t remember how to exist on its own without fear.

It takes Love and Compassion, both of whom share a place just up the road from Fear and Hate, to try and break up the party. Love and Compassion are magnetically drawn by the noise and ruckus that Fear and Hate make when they get together, and feel it’s their civic duty to quell the commotion, introduce a sense of order, empathy, and dignity. The confrontation never ends peacefully. There’s usually blood, bruised egos, and a bitter divide. Often, Love and Compassion need to back off and regroup, lick their wounds and plan another tactic to try and break up Fear and Hate’s party. But just like their stubborn-headed neighbours, Love and Compassion refuse to give up. They’ll call in reinforcements if need be: Prudence, Justice, Law, and Order. Whatever it takes to get the job done. Afterall, no one wants to live in a neighbourhood that’s constantly on fire. No one wants to be kept up by the noises of a party that’s spun out of control that sees no logical end other than to consume and destroy the very place they live.

It may not seem like it in the heat of the moment, but Fear and Hate are never happy about the mess they make. Their intention is always to bring about something they believe is good and positive; but they always forget that they’re a combustible combination and that it takes the smallest of spark to light their fire.That said, Love and Hate have their shortcomings, too. They often ignore opportunities to engage with and quell Fear and Hate in more peaceful moments. For all their strengths, Fear and Compassion can sometimes be elitist and cliquey.

And so it goes: the neighbourhood gets upended by Fear and Hate’s carousing; Love and Compassion, ever the heroes, sweep in and try to settle things down, but sometimes — most times — make things worse before making things better. And Wisdom, always patient and calm, looks down on the burning neighbourhood from its adjacent high rise apartment, and sings its song, hoping with eternal optimism, that someone below will hear it.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED
Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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