“Beat It”

You better run, you better do what you can
Don’t wanna see no blood, don’t be a macho man
You wanna be tough, better do what you can
So beat it, but you wanna be bad

Enter, the first theme of the song: pride. In the instance described by the song, we see that pride is at odds with the good. This is, perhaps, consistent with the words of the psalmist, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

Unfortunately the Hebrew word for pride in this passage, Ga’own, is just as ambiguous as our english usage of the word. In everyday language, it seems that pride can mean either a proper sense of accomplishment for one’s efforts, or it can mean an excessive boating for one’s accomplishments. The excessive boasting is likely what the psalmist is referring to in above passage, but what about the pride that is a healthy sense of accomplishment?

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin’ how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it

The second theme in the song actually seems to relate to the healthy pride: the right. The right, in this instance, could be interpreted as in accordance with the character of the insulted. In other words, this potential scuffle is probably the result of a violation of the insulted’s healthy pride.

You have to show them that you’re really not scared
You’re playin’ with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare
They’ll kick you, then they beat you,
Then they’ll tell you it’s fair
So beat it, but you wanna be bad

The good, the right, and pride come together in the above paragraph. The interplay between the three throughout the song is as follows: It is good to transcend one’s pride because the right matters not if you’re dead or at the mercy of those who hate you. What’s interesting is that this is true regardless if the pride is in a healthy or unhealthy sense.

Did Jackson capture or exclude the type of prescription we find in Jesus’ life and teachings? With Jesus, we do seem to see a disregard for the right (or the just), for Jesus’ crucifixion was out of accordance with is character (i.e., he was innocent). Moreover, in the 12th chapter of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship he suggests that “The followers of Jesus for his sake renounce every personal right.” Its interesting, by the way, that lately I’ve been trying to figure out what it means to include the right in my faith, and now, I’m finding that the right is sometimes renounced for the good (e.g. Jesus experienced an unjust death for the good of mankind).

Out of time, but I hope that whenever I hear “Beat it”, I’m reminded of Jesus and the Way to navigate the good, the right, and pride.

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