Something Has Changed

Jason Aldean covers Tom Petty’s “I won’t back down.” Neither will we.

Two musicians have been on my mind since the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Jason Aldean was on stage at a Country Music Festival when the carnage began and issued a heartfelt statement in the aftermath. His words have stuck with me: “Something has changed in this country and in this world lately that is scary to see.”


Tom Petty passed away while we were trying to process the Vegas shooting. He was 66. Mr. Petty meant a lot to me and to music fans of my generation and beyond. In reading through some of his interviews, I saw a quote that also made me think.

Petty gave an interview to USA Today upon the release of what would be his last album, 2014’s “Hypnotic Eye”, a record he said was about “what’s happened to the human that’s lost his humanity.”

Petty went on to say: “I’m not extremely political. I just look at what makes sense to me. I would think we’d be in the streets demanding that our children be safe in schools. I see friendships end over politics. I’ve never seen so much anger. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. In a two-party system, ideas are argued and you compromise. You’re not supposed to stop the process.”

Mind you, this was 2014. Things have gotten a lot angrier and nastier in the past three years haven’t they?

We see violence all over the world—people brutalized in Myanmar, blown up in Britain and France, girls kidnapped in Nigeria, cartel violence destroying cities in Mexico—the list goes on and on. And we see violence and unspeakable acts here as well.

But something else is afoot.

Something else is happening.

It’s a lack of civility. A lack of respect for common decency. An inability to see other points of view.

We live in a divisive society and taken to its extremes we become tribal and if you are not in my tribe you must be stupid, evil, bad—or somehow less human.

But Jason Aldean’s full statement called on us to remember that we are all human—and we are all Americans, even if we disagree—maybe especially because we disagree. Isn’t that what America is supposed to be about?

Democracy is loud and messy at times, but Lincoln and others reminded us to be mindful of our better angels. We sometimes lose track of those angels and we lash out.

We see it on cable news, online, in our nation’s capital, in Tallahassee and right here at home in our city halls.

We can blame it on social media. We can blame it on #fakenews. We can blame it on Trump. We can blame it on Hillary.

But the buck stops with us.

I write down quotes that make me think. I got this one from the former CEO of Office Depot. Bruce Nelson and I used to meet here and there when he was running the show at their old Delray headquarters out on Congress Avenue. Mr. Nelson once said to me: “You stand for what you tolerate.”

It’s an interesting quote isn’t it?

So why do we tolerate nastiness, bullying, incivility and lack of results?

Why do we wait for the knight on the white horse to arrive and save the day, when we have the power to bring about positive change?

Something has changed.

We are tolerating too much nonsense.

Our leaders work for us—why are we afraid of them?

If we want to see a just world, a gentler, and safer place why do we tolerate nonsense?

If we want to solve problems, why don’t we?




  1. Mr. Perlman, I wanted to thank you for your excellent article, titled “Something Has Changed”. I agree 100% with you about the lack of civility, a lack of respect, and a lack of common decency in our society today. Your article was so well written. I think everyone could benefit from reading your article. We are all in this world together. Most of us have the same basic needs and desires. Mankind could move so much farther along if we concentrated our efforts on helping each other and creating things, rather than destroying things and tearing people down. I agreed with your article so much, that I actually copied it and saved it on my computer. Thank you again for this insightful perspective on society.

    • Jeff Perlman says

      Thanks so much Mr. Hall.
      I really appreciate your comments. Lets hope we can find common ground. A lot is at stake. Best always Jeff.

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