There’s a new revolution, a loud evolution that I saw
Born of confusion and quiet collusion of which mostly I’ve known
A modern day woman with a weak constitution, ’cause I’ve got
Monsters still under my bed that I could never fight off
– Lana Del Rey
My parents recently heard these lyrics and were thoroughly unimpressed. ‘What revolution?’ they asked, ‘If you are confused how can you start a revolution? Why would you want to start one? Are these the confused and illogical thoughts that cloud the minds of the young?’
My parents were children of the 50s and 60s, teenagers of the 70s and adults from the 80s. They were born in the same decade when the Chinese Communist Revolution painted the lives of many red. They ran streets as barefooted and laughing children that the Communist Party of Vietnam would later claim as communal land. This would be the beginnings of a supposedly revolutionary societal structure from which they would later flee as teenagers. They celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall with the birth of their first daughter, the end of a revolution spanning decades, the war that was, but never was. Their histories are stamped with the notion of revolution, it is not just a concept, a word to be used lightly in pop music lyrics, but a life experience, one whose imprint continues to mark their daily.
Even with this knowledge, my relationship to the word revolution differs completely to theirs, losing the ‘proceed with caution’ sign that my parents believe is inherent to its definition. I don’t see red when I hear the word revolution. The sound of gunshots is missing, drowned out by Lana’s smoky voice and student protesters. When institutional walls within our society crack, I cheer, toasting tequila shots in downstairs Moose. My parents’ past lives are smoke-like to me, losing their ability to tangibly affect my own thoughts on revolutions. How have history and lived experience lost the ability to influence my present?
ANU might have something to do with it. Our campus is peppered with posters where the word revolution is attached to climate rallies, political protests and general student activism. It’s in our song lyrics, Buzzfeed articles, social media posts. It inspires visions of change, spearheaded by us, the youth, of movement where we tear down institutions which are outdated and reinstate a new order. We are reckless with the word, tossing it around, confused by its meaning, starry-eyed by the promise of change that it inspires. It is the promise of something new and shiny, more politically correct, more intersectional, more futuristic, more modern, more forward thinking.
Change. Action. More. Protest. Youth Power. More. Change.
I have attached meaning and vision to a word until it resembles nothing at all, clouded by convoluted, contradictory and careless thoughts. They are right, my parents. I am confused.
Welcome, Lana says, to being a modern day woman with a weak constitution.