Where your morals grow: Crowded House and Mansions in Slums.

by sherrinak

Once upon a time, a song was heard. It spoke of mansions in slums, trampolines in front rooms, caravans in hills and laughing at yourself. But is it the despair of the catch-22 of the debt/quality of life balancing act of contemporary society? Or rhetorical questioning of the spiritual pressure in a world that revolves around money?

Where ever it sits in the ideological spectrum, this song introduced the concepts of altruism to a twelve year old girl’s world. Fairy tales reverberated those themes, in highly abstract and supernatural fashion, depicting costs and benefits of giving over receiving; promising great rewards for living according to those lessons. “Donkey Skin” and “Mother Holle” issued dire warnings of consequences for laziness and greed, while promising great rewards for kindness and compassion.

“Mansion in the Slums” was that song, which used words she could understand within her reality. She saw possibility because of those words and sowed ideas of how she wanted her life to look. Too quickly in time, she would rely on those words, as pollution of realities of (small town) life seeped into her experience.

Abuses – the likes of which were beyond the scope of reasonability and the law – stole beloved friends. Acts of violence slapped mortality and fallibility of the human body into the foreground of her life. Growled threats and poisonous jealousies combined, cracking the foundation of her innocence. She felt trapped in a twisted version of those fraudulent tales, with their broken promises of bad people and their selfish, cruel actions getting them their duly earned punishment.

Worry was constant: What would the next minutes, hours, day bring? More threats? More isolation? How on earth was she supposed to deal with this? This was way beyond the petty jealousy, healthy competition, mild envy she had experienced in normal childhood squabbles. Oh, no… This was pack mentality. But who or what was the pack? Their faces, their names… Unknown, vindictive and anonymous. Shiftless and shapeless, but so crushingly powerful. But, she had found that song.

Her adolescence bore the fruit of shattered illusions created by those stories – the reality that goodness and kindness brought no reward, instead summoned the attention of those who were cruel, malicious and unkind. Her inability to comprehend how crimes  against the laws of “What Is Right” and “How Things Are Meant To Work” could go unpunished. Those crimes and lack of consequence crushed her ability to trust those around her. She never recovered the innocence, light and love she had been before her heart and trust was broken. But, she still had that song.

It was a constant desire through all of this, that she would never build a mansion in a slum, or gain from another person’s expense. She lived better because of that song. She lived longer because of that song.