Ira’s Story

I love rock music. I grew up in a home where classic rock, like the band “Rush” and “Journey,” was played abundantly. In my early twenties, after serving a two-year proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I felt a draw to heavy metal music. It all started when I was hanging out with friends at college and one of my friends told me that the band Slipknot had won a Grammy for one of their songs. I was shocked and humored by this. I had always considered bands like them as trash. Despite my previous opinion, hearing this sparked an interest to find out what these guys were all about.

“I love rock music.”

I spent a good amount of time researching the band Slipknot—from watching documentaries to reading their song lyrics to learning more about their personal lives and ideologies. What I found was beautiful. What was manifested to me as I researched this band was a group of severely broken and traumatized human beings, who coped by expressing their pain in a disgusting and aggressive manner. They took it even further by wearing disturbing masks to help them fully express the anger, hurt, and sorrow they were experiencing. Slipknot’s music creates a vessel for kids, who are experiencing deep negative feelings, to release them in a healthy way through the music.

“I spent a good amount of time researching the band Slipknot…What I found was beautiful.”

After researching them, I started to become attracted to their music. I began to see the beauty in their aggressive and pain-painted lyrics. After researching dozens of bands, I found that there were many more like Slipknot that were using their music to cope with the dark emotions and events they had experienced. What surprised me, was how many of these musicians were upstanding people. Many were devoted to a religious faith, abstained from alcohol and drugs, and had families of their own. Upon learning this, my affection for the genre increased and I became more and more fascinated with the world of heavy metal and the healing effects it has on those that participate in it.

“The more I researched world events, the more fascinated I became with the hot topic of terrorism, and the intense emotions and opinions tied to it.”

While attending Brigham Young University- Hawaii, I gained an interest in world history and current events. The more I researched world events, the more fascinated I became with the hot topic of terrorism. As I studied and learned from various people who had visited and lived in the Middle East, I began to realize that there were many problems in that part of the world, but that what was being shared and broadcast were not always true. While there is political corruption and economic chaos among the Arab peoples, religion was not the problem, but was the mask used to cover the roots of the problem.

“Living in a society that has been torn apart and abased by foreign powers and internal political corruption, it makes perfect sense that this large population of young adults would turn to terrorist organizations to give them a sense of belonging and stimulation.”

Through various sources, I began to see that the root of the problems in the Middle East were political, economic, cultural, and foreign-influenced. Due to their strict and honor-based culture, many upset and hurt young adults and kids do not have many avenues to express their anger except through religious extremism. We have seen that much of the religious extremism takes place among the young adults ranging from 17 to the late thirties. During this period of life, individuals are often trying to find meaning and a cause to belong two. Living in a society that has been torn apart and abased by foreign powers and internal political corruption, it makes perfect sense that this large population of young adults would turn to terrorist organizations (essentially Arab organized crime) to give them a sense of belonging and stimulation. 

“[Individuals] around the world need a cause to belong to that gives them a platform to properly express their deep-rooted pain and frustrations and at the same time release some of that pressure through catharsis.”

With this knowledge of the Middle East dilemma and the powerful effect Heavy Metal can have on a person, the thought occurred to me “Why not combine the two?” Thus the birth of Cathartic Expressions.

“The arts have a powerful ability to enlighten the mind and fill a person’s life with healing and joy.”

These young Arabs and many others around the world need a cause to belong to that gives them a platform to properly express their deep-rooted pain and frustrations and at the same time release some of that pressure through catharsis (like expressing themselves through music). I believe this will help many individuals turn away from the avenues of violence and extremism and be able to live more productive and worthwhile lives. Young adults and youth need to be able to express their frustrations and deep-rooted pains through healthy and creative avenues. This is why I feel that catharsis through music will be able to help many Arabs be able to cope with the negative feelings they harbor and become a more peaceful society.