The Trees - RUSH
There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.
The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.
There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give ...view middle of the document...
) The moment I finished listening to "The Trees", I started making connections to the possible political and/or social theories it and Selfihness might share. Searching to validate some of my ideas, I scrolled through pages of internet site comments ranging from "these lyrics are not symbolic whatsoever" to "an allegory for the blacks civil rights movement" to "(symbolic of) some form or other of communism." Now before I present my own ideas, I'd like to quickly debunk the first two above.
Just because the writing of these lyrics was prompted by a cartoon does not mean the lyrics are not symbolic. I'd imagine that it would be difficult nearing impossible for an intellectual like Peart to create any form of art that doesn't subconsciously make allusions or form symbols. In fact, these lyrics are written to include such an abundant number of possible connections that the whole song is literally inherently symbolic. There is a plethora of social and political theories that could be symbolized by the maple and oak relationship - I've even read a couple religious ones. Yet, I find a few issues hard to connect with this song; i.e., women's and blacks' civil rights movements.
I understand why some might associate these issues with the song at first. The maples represent women/blacks, and the oaks white males. But the crux of the song, and the part that disproves those theories, is the last two lines: "And the trees are all kept equal/By hatchet, axe, and saw." So both the maples and the oaks are cut to equal height in order to appease the maples' plea for "more sunlight." Therein lies the key difference between the ending of the maples' "oppression" and the ending of women's sexist and blacks' racial discrimination: the white male was not stripped of his rights in order to have the same level of rights as the women or blacks, therefore leveling them all to the same plain. Instead, the two suppressed groups were given some, and eventually almost all, of the rights held by the white man - at NO expense to the white man. That is why this song encompasses some but NOT all of the elements needed to properly portray the issues of the women's and blacks' civil rights struggles.
Now on to what can be symbolized by this song: anti-socialism, anti-collectivism and anti-altruism all in one swoop, as well as a couple topics from chapters in Rand's book. The root of the three "anti-s" (socialists, collectivists, and altruists) are symbolized by the maples, badgering the oaks (capitalists/objectivists) for more sunlight (power, equality, "rights"). The maples seem angered at the oaks for being bigger and taller and sucking up all the light. In nature, maples are actually quite capable of surviving with minimal sunlight, as opposed to oaks who need it constantly to thrive. Similarly, Rand presents the three "anti-s" or, for example, collectivists, as trying to sap those with more talent, money or "rights" and flatten them out under the pseudo-cause of...