Insights From Madonna

A few months ago I was doing some shopping (groceries if you must know), and you know how grocery stores always have the worst music playing in the “not-so-much” background? Well, this particular time Madonna’s song “Don’t Tell Me” was on the broadcast (at least I think that’s the name of the song). But, as silly as listening to Madonna may be, I was listening to the lyrics of the song to see what she (or whoever wrote the song) had to say. I was quite surprised. Here are the lines that struck me:

Tell me love isn’t true
It’s just something that we do
Tell me everything I’m not
But please don’t tell me to stop

When we dissect the statements we find some pretty profound concepts. First, what does it mean for love to be true? I think what’s going on here is whether or not love is a universal and unchanging thing. Is love defined by something which can change – like an evolutionary or societal ingraining – or does it find it’s definition in an unchanging referent (like the classical concept of the theistic God).

The next line is saying that love is just a thing we do. It’s just a behavior that we do – it’s not a transcendent or objective reality in that it’s just a mere behavior – like eating chips, or picking your nose, or something. It then follows that loving in a certain way isn’t immoral, it’s just a thing we do – such as “loving” children.

The last two lines here are interesting. Tell me everything thing I’m not. But please don’t tell me to stop.

What I think is really expressed here is this: I don’t care what you say about me or think about me – just let me do the things I want to do and leave me alone.

Does this reflect anyone you know? Perhaps it’s one’s own attitude towards life.

I think this philosophy of “just leave me alone and let me do my thing” is fairly rampant in our culture.

But what are the implications of such a view?

For starters, if we are supposed to just leave people do as they please then what happens when someone decides to rape a child? To kill an innocent?

I think it’s fair to say that unless we limit the pool of permissible choices of people (that’s what laws are after all), then we run into a world that is unlivable and unwanted.

So I think Madonna (or the writer) is wrong on this notion that we should all just let each other do whatever we want. Most serial killers and child rapist are doing “what feels good”, and the fact is that we don’t permit such choices.

The last thing is that of love. If love isn’t an objective reality (which would mean it’s grounded by something that changes or is internal to humanity), then what happens? Well, things like saving people from fires, saving people from oppression, helping someone through a great loss, and so on, are just something that we do. So if someone decides to let a child burn in a fire – well, that’s just something that we do.

Some interesting thoughts from Madonna’s song, but all together I think they reflect an ultimately conflictive view of reality.

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