Biology is one of my favorite subjects. A huge topic in biology is evolution, and one cornerstone of evolution is that it is a long, slow process – basically, we cannot genetically evolve as human beings in our lifetime. It takes mutations of our DNA to build up over generations via natural selection to come to the true meaning of biological evolution. We have the hard work and revolutionary ideas of Charles Darwin to thank for this idea that most students now take for granted.

Imagine Dragons is my favorite band, and their latest album released this summer is called Evolve. Two weeks ago, I saw Imagine Dragons perform in Philadelphia, and their lead singer, Dan Reynolds, made me want to throw away the biological ideals which I value so dearly and instead believe that we as individuals and as the human population can evolve during our lifetimes.

Most people at the concert were there because they loved Imagine Dragons’ music. We were all united initially by the shared desire to hear in person what we’ve heard on our car radios, through our earbuds walking across college campuses across the nation, or maybe what our best friend forced us to listen to so that they had someone to attend the concert with. It’s not news that music brings people together. But that night Dan Reynolds used the power of his words, both spoken and sung, to draw us even closer to everyone in the room and across the world.

Near the beginning of the show – when we were all still settling in, warming up our voices that would soon be scratched raw, getting a feel for the crowd, the people around us, judging their sense of commitment to the band on the stage – Dan started to talk about people. The most important thing was that he started and ended with love. Love for everyone in the room coming out to support a common cause: music. The love everyone had for some melodies and lyrics far outweighing others’ hatred around the world. Hatred for others’ beliefs, religion, appearance, culture, ideals, wealth, background, country – music and other shared feelings of love should trump that hatred every time. However, similar events around the world have faced terror and loss because smaller groups have allowed their hatred to infect a greater group’s love. Dan promised his audience that night that he would do whatever it takes to ensure our safety because of the significance of people everywhere coming out to show and share their love; that is the only way to overcome hate and make changes in the world. He ended this speech by jumping into the band’s first big hit, It’s Time. The most iconic line for me and many others in this song is “the path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell,” which even though it came out years before the group’s new album Evolve, highlights the same ideal: we as human beings have to face adversity in order to change and discover the world we want to live in.

Furthermore, he helped us relate our lives to countless others across the world when he spoke proudly of his personal struggle with mental health. Professing on a stage in front of over a thousand fans that he suffered from depression and had spent time seeking help and talking to a counselor that he still talks to today, he put himself out there because he knew there were others like him who just needed to hear that it could be done—that they were not alone in their fight for mental health. When the band then transitioned right into playing my favorite song of all time, Demons, I knew that this was no ordinary concert, no ordinary group of musicians, and we were no ordinary audience. Dan saw how we had come together to see a show that night, and then let us imagine how we could apply the same love that got us there to a shared love for one another and everything that makes us unique and so much more than ordinary. Again, I have to say that the title of their album and tour was so befitting of their message: we as a people are evolving and will continue to evolve. But we have the power and the love to control the direction we’re heading. This isn’t biology – it doesn’t have to be natural selection, survival of the fittest. We can evolve every day to become better people, to overcome challenges by changing mindsets, one at a time, like mutations of single nucleotides, until we reach a true change in our population.

I learned a while ago that Imagine Dragons is an anagram for the band’s true name, which they have never revealed. It bothered me at first that I didn’t know the secret meaning behind my favorite band’s name. But now I have come to appreciate how it lets me imagine anything. I may not know what the name means to them, but I have discovered what it means to me. To every individual, even the same song can hold a very different meaning. But imagine a world where there is only a shared love for things like music. That’s what I like to imagine when I hear Imagine Dragons. I hear their music and imagine a world where hatred is not allowed to rule. Where we all listen to Dan Reynolds and stand up for what we love and not for hatred. If everyone would just imagine anything and everything that they want to exist in our world, we may one day evolve into the people we want to be.

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