In Regards to Chester Bennington and Linkin Park

I apologize ahead of time if this post feels unorganized and disjointed, but I’m going to say everything I have to say in one long paragraph. Linkin Park was one of my favorite bands back in middle school, but besides a few passing jokes, I hadn’t given them much thought for the past four years. That was, of course, until yesterday. The news of lead singer Chester Bennington’s suicide was something I never could have expected, and it left me with an empty, almost disbelieving feeling—I was in the middle of a two-hour drive at the time and didn’t really know how to feel about the whole situation. It wasn’t until afterwards when I looked through my Twitter timeline that the weight and impact of the news, not only on me but millions of others, truly became clear. There are few times where simply looking at social media posts became an experience within of itself. Tragedy has a strange power to bring people together, and these past couple of days have been potent proof of that. I saw an immeasurable amount of love and appreciation for Chester and all he’s done, and it became crystal clear that this was a man who’s both entertained and helped millions of people, who’s probably saved countless lives with his music. It’s easy to make fun of Linkin Park. Calling out their music for being edgy and angsty is a lot like calling NGE‘s Shinji Ikari emo—it’s not inaccurate, but it’s a gross over-generalization that undermines their true value. Few bands are capable of conveying such raw, heavy emotion with such intensity, and a great deal of that is thanks to Chester. Frustration and anger, in particular, have rarely been presented so effectively as in their music. My 12-year-old self couldn’t have fully comprehended what their work revealed about humanity, how it tackled the most painful of our emotions head-on and still found a way to be defiantly hopeful. Think of the frustration of trying as hard as you can only to fail as painfully demonstrated in “In the End”, or humanity’s dual capacity for destruction and healing as shown in the music video of “What I’ve Done”. ¬†You can call suicide a selfish act, but you can’t call Chester a selfish person—he’s given us all too much for that. Psychologist Abraham Maslow claimed that a person can only reach their full potential once they’ve fulfilled all of their other needs, but if Chester’s career isn’t an example of self-actualization, I don’t know what is. It goes to show that how successful you are financially or artistically doesn’t make you any less vulnerable. So, what does all of this mean for me. Personally, yesterday allowed me to not only re-discover a beloved band from my past, but also to re-connect with my younger-self, who I usually disregard as an angsty, retarded edgelord. My only real excuse for being that way up until now is that I absolutely despised middle school—high school is a breeze compared to that shit. But by going back and listening to some of my favorite songs from back then, I’ve come to better understand the way I felt, and to appreciate how I’ve changed for the better since then. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to write this post in the first place. But this isn’t about me—it’s about Chester Bennington, and it’s about all of Linkin Park’s members. All I need to say to them is: thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done. Chester may have passed on, but he will never truly be gone. Like so many other great artists who have left us, his legacy will live on through his music and through all of the people who have listened and continue listen to it. If you’re not convinced, just take a look at their discography: “Numb”, “In the End”, “Breaking the Habit”, “What I’ve Done”, “Leave Out All the Rest” (which has become even more impactful after Chester’s death) , “Shadow of the Day”, “New Divide”, “Waiting for the End”—the list goes on and on and on. Since last night, I’ve been listening to their songs nonstop, watching their music videos, paying my respects in whatever way I can. Countless others have been doing the very same. To any of you who have been fans of Linkin Park at any point, I encourage you to do so as well. There’s one last thing I have to say, and it’s perhaps the most important part of this entire post. While I certainly have some of my own issues upstairs, I’ve never seriously considered suicide at any point in my life—but for those of you who are struggling with such feelings, I encourage you to do anything necessary not to act upon them. I know that must sound rich coming from a guy who makes suicide jokes on a daily basis, and I doubt that you’d be reading this post to even hear me say it in the first place, but I still feel obligated to do so. I’m really not sure how to end this post. It’s difficult to talk about something as serious as death, especially suicide, and then simply move on. But in a way, that’s what have to do. We’re allowed to mourn and reflect for a time, but that can’t go on forever. Sometimes goodbye’s the only way. For as heartbreaking and seemingly meaningless death is, it can teach us at least one thing: to go on living as best we can. It can be painful, but as long as you keep going, you’ll always have a chance to be happy someday.