For a short time in the 1990s, an eccentric young man named Beck topped the charts with his "viral" (not a buzzword at the time) song "Loser." The notorious chorus line went, "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me?" I'm still uncertain about the song's penultimate message, but that was par for the course in the Cobain decade. It was the musical era of alternative rock, eclectic lyrics, and melancholy personalities. And Beck was one of its poster boys.
Even though I found the song catchy and often caught myself reciting its semi-melodic lyrics, I never fully bought into its draconian tenor. "[W]hy don't you kill me"? The clause was always a bit too harsh for me. Even as a struggling teenager--with all of my self-conscious, self-doubting, self-blaming tendencies--I never wanted to die. Maybe Beck longed to fulfill some lethal fantasy, but not me!
At the same time, I identified fully with the other part of his chorus. I was a loser...at least in my own mind. I felt as if I were playing the role of a personified failure--some maudlin character in a Kubrickesque drama. My parents were supportive, my teachers generally encouraging, and my friends plentiful. Nevertheless, I still thought of myself as a loser, baby...an inadequate, misadventured fool.
I wonder how many people whom I encounter every day believe the same thing about themselves. Do any of my friends consider themselves losers? How about my colleagues? Church members? Is one of my children struggling with feelings of failure and inadequacy? What about my wife, parents, aunts, or uncles? Honestly, I'm not sure. These sorts of feelings are so very intimate--buried deeper than most other emotions and self-talk--that few people even know they exist in those around them.
Fortunately for me, as the 1990s ended, the new millennium began, and I matured a bit, I left Beck and his lyric masochism behind. I still sometimes struggle with my confidence and am prone to negative self-talk on occasion; however, I have changed. I've traded directorial control of my life from Kubrick to Christ. When I find myself devolving into some negative emotional recess, I have faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to rescue me. Is this the case for everyone, though? What about those who are trapped in their own psychological basements? And...what I have done to help them? You see, I've seen the light of Truth, and I've tasted the sweetness of God's grace. But have I given it all away, or have I ignorantly allowed Beckian philosophy to ravage its foothold in some other loser?