Dear John Mayer:
The release of your latest song, “Waiting On the World to Change,” has left me with a burning question: What exactly are you “waiting for?”
One can only hope that you were so caught up in maintaining the rhyme scheme and melody of “Waiting On the World to Change” that the pathetic message behind its words was an undesired outcome. Or that in writing the lyrics you did not actually intend to provide justification (albeit a weak one) for resigning yourself to sitting back and choosing to do nothing instead of actively working against the glaring injustices of the world that you sing about, reinforcing the stereotype of our generation as being apathetic and lazy and giving an excuse to those that validate this stereotype.
If not for the preservation of the rhyme scheme, why else would you base an entire song upon the faulty premise that things will get better in this world if we simply wait?
Positive social change does not come about through people sitting around, i.e. waiting for the world to change. Martin Luther King reminds us that “to ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.”
By choosing not to lift a finger, you are not only failing to help a suffering person, but indirectly contributing to that suffering.
Aside from the faulty premise, what gets me the most are the watery excuses that are given for your inaction.
You sing that the reason you do not actively fight these injustices is because you, “just feel like we don’t have the means to rise above and beat it,” but if you only “had the power,” what a better world it would be.
Yet if a person like you who has the attention of millions can say that he does not have enough power to make a difference, when will we ever have enough power or feel “ready” to take on the world’s problems?
The ability to capture the eyes, ears and hearts of the public through music and the media is not only an unparalleled power but also an amazing privilege; how much more “power” could one actually have?
Why do you think that you have the right to wait around when the world is in such an urgent crisis at this very moment.
How can you “keep on waiting,” as people are killed in Iraq, genocide continues in Darfur and homelessness pervades our own country?
This is not to say that I can’t relate to feeling hopeless in certain situations. I just don’t see it as an excuse.
It is important to distinguish that the feeling of powerlessness does not mean that a person actually is powerless, simply that one is recognizing the gravity and complexity of something that is greater than oneself.
Feeling powerless is a natural response to suffering. But we should focus on what we do with those feelings and how we can together use them to fuel our fight, not as an excuse for failing to enter the fight.
And yes, while the song also recognizes that, “the fight ain’t fair,” I think it’s safe to say that this was established long ago, and it surely did not deter Martin Luther King from joining the good fight.
The reason that we “fight” is precisely because life is not “fair.” We work for justice because inequality still exists. Knowing this fact makes us responsible to do something about it. So if “it’s hard to beat the system when we’re standing at a distance,” then by God, step up to the plate and get yourself involved.
Worst of all, you put it all to a jazzy, soulful beat that has us singing that we too are justified for sitting on our duffs.
John Mayer, you cannot claim ignorance; the song clearly points out the suffering that you see all around you.
You cannot claim powerlessness; the radio airways and listening ears of millions are at your finger tips. And you most certainly cannot claim that your plan of “waiting” for the world to change has ever been effective in bringing about positive social change.
So I ask you once again, John–What exactly are you “waiting” for?