Tim McIlrath

by Tyler from San Diego

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"We all have a moral obligation to leave the world a better place than the world that we've found." - Tim McIlrath. No person lives by this quote better than the man who said it. That's right, Tim McIlrath not only speaks the words but lives the life to prove its significance.

Tim was born on November 3, 1978 and is the lead singer of Rise Against. He is known for actively promoting PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Much of what drives his life today stemmed from his youth. Reading dystopian literature while he was growing up influenced his work later in life (Julia). His hatred of bullying first appeared in high school where he was picked on for having heterochromia (having two different colored eyes)(Julia). This bullying would then give him the vision and willpower to go on and write the influential and inspiring songs that he does.

A hero must be willing to make sacrifices for the good of people everywhere. They also must be willing to challenge people's beliefs in order to make the world a better place. Tim McIlrath does both of these things throughout his life. He constantly puts his own potential growth aside to help others in need, and he is willing to take a stand against society's beliefs and problems to create a positive change the world.

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Tim never fails to show selflessness in a situation where it would benefit people, regardless of who that may be. One great example of this is seen in the article "Rise Against and It Gets Better Project Announce Collaboration and Tackle Bullying In New Music Video for 'Make It Stop (September's Children)'."

"A number of events were the catalyst for the creation of Make It Stop, everything from the suicides in September 2010, to our own fans voicing their fears and insecurities from time to time," says McIlrath. "I decided to create the song as a response" ( "Rise Against and It Gets Better Project Announce Collaboration and Tackle Bullying In New Music Video for 'Make It Stop (September's Children)'." ).

One specific reason he wrote "Make it Stop" was because a young lesbian fan had written them worried that the band wouldn't want her support because she was a lesbian (Norris). Tim writes this song for those children who needed it, and for any gay people who feel lost or worthless in life. He wrote a song that opens the heart of those who hear it and that will greatly alter people's lives. He puts the desire of some of his fans aside in order to benefit a group of people in need. This is also a great example of his selflessness because he is willing to overlook his potential fame and fortune to lend a hand to those kids and families in need of the world's full support. Writing songs that talk about partying is big in pop culture but Mcilrath rises above this social norm that would make him money, and creates a song because people who are struggling need it.

In another example, he was trying to write a song that will help soldiers who are scarred by the events they witnessed in war: "Stories I was hearing from fans were very different from stories I saw in the news." Or, "I was getting kids who were torn up inside about what was happening over there and talking about what they were doing over there" (Norris). Again, it is apparent how Tim puts his own life and agenda aside to help his fans. He's willing to write about a touchy subject, risking fame, fortune, and fans to help people struggling through tough times. It also shows selflessness because he puts his own opinions aside to help people. He could be writing more songs pushing his own ideals but instead he creates a song that's based on a true story with the sole intention of helping those in distress. It's clear that throughout his career as a musician Tim has put his own life on hold to help those in need through his music.

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In addition to his never-ending quest to help people, Tim constantly challenges the things we believe and the way we look at the world, making him a great hero. One example of Tim challenging the world around him takes place in the interview "Tim McIlrath: 'I Never Had a Very Careerist Attitude Towards Rise Against's Music and Message'" when he states that: "Some of the ground rules of success in the music industry is don't ruffle any feathers. Walk the line and don't take any strong positions. Don't do anything that would risk alienating a fanbase. You know what I mean?" The interviewer promptly responds with "Keep it simple and upbeat." To which Tim replies "Stay out of politics. Keep your opinions to yourself and just shut up and play. That "shut up and play" mantra is woven into the industry. We weren't playing by those rules so when success came to us anyway, that was something that was kind of a shocker." ("Tim McIlrath: 'I Never Had a Very Careerist Attitude Towards Rise Against's Music and Message'").

Tim's ability to challenge the music industry and its values is a key component in his heroic presence. This is because he gets people thinking and thinking is one of the first steps to making change in the world. So take this example, he challenges the true essence of the music industry, which opens peoples' eyes towards the true evil of that scene. He's very clearly allowing people the opportunity to see that the music industry doesn't worry about the message they're sending to their devoted fans, but rather how much money they'll make or what color their next sports car will be. This willingness to challenge the music scene's values potentially could lead to a change in this industry, which frankly would benefit society greatly.

The other way Tim challenges the status quo shows his heroism is because it takes courage which is commonly addressed as a key component of being a hero. This is because being willing to spread your message takes courage, he is well aware of the backlash and hate mail that fans will be sending to him. His willingness to challenge the status quo is also seen when Tim states in an article that: "'Rise Against is sending the message to its fan base that the bullying and harassment of LGBT teens needs to stop and that suicide isn't a solution.'"(Rise Against and It Gets Better Project Announce Collaboration and Tackle Bullying In New Music Video for 'Make It Stop (September's Children)'.). Here Tim challenges what people believe in the way of tolerance. This is a great example of how him challenging the status quo is beneficial because the song he is referring to has helped a numerous amount gay people through tough times in their life. Had he shied away from taking this stand, it's difficult to say how many more kids would've already taken their life.

Again Tim is willing to take a stand despite the message that will make some people angry. He is brave enough to challenge people's way of life and that makes all the difference. It's already been stated how it benefited gay people all around the world. However him challenging people's personal beliefs also benefits them. It makes people question their own values on a personal level which ultimately makes them a better person. Both of these quotes clearly show how Tim challenging the status quo greatly impacts the world around him for the better, and even shows his own bravery. Both of which are key components of being a hero.

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Tim is a great hero because of all his selfless work and his willingness to challenge people's' ideas, making them better people and ultimately leaving a better world behind. Through all of his music and claims he makes during interviews, it's easy to see why Tim well deserves the title of hero. I feel connected to Tim because I have a gay brother. Because of this, his music and lifestyle inspires me to always be open minded towards him and everyone else.

Tim's influence and inspiration is clear in people's lives just by a little digging in the YouTube comments:  "This is my song for today, it is powerful and makes me shiver and sad, yet empowered all the same!  #inspiring   #music   #video"(DGC Records) or "brilliant message to send out to struggling people. As a Gay guy in college I can relate to "Too much blood has flown from the wrists of the children shamed for those they chose to kiss"I've struggled with being who I am and really wanted to make it stop, now every time I get abuse or get pushed about I just say September's Children - Rise Against give it a listen"(DGC Records). By both of these comments its very clear how much Rise Against and Tim McIlrath really influence people to be better, more open minded people, and keep their heads up through hard times. Reflect and implement Tim's will to ignite change into your daily life, stand up for people out there who need your help, and be willing to see the change that one person can make.


Works Cited

DGC Records. "Rise Against - Make It Stop (September's Children)."YouTube. YouTube, 21 June 2011. Web. 07 May 2015. .

 Julia. "Tim McIlrath.", 7 Feb. 2010. Web. 01 May 2015.                   <>.

Norris, John. "MUSIC TALKS - Bullying & Homophobia - with Tim McIlrath, Rise Against." YouTube. YouTube, 3 May 2013. Web. 01 May 2015. .

Norris, John. "MUSIC TALKS - Our Country & War - with Tim McIlrath, Rise Against." YouTube. YouTube, 16 May 2013. Web. 04 May 2015. <>

"Rise Against and It Gets Better Project Announce Collaboration and Tackle Bullying In New Music Video for 'Make It Stop (September's Children)'." PR Newswire 21 June 2011. Biography in Context. Web. 1 May 2015.

"Tim McIlrath: 'I Never Had a Very Careerist Attitude Towards Rise Against's Music and Message'" Tim McIlrath: 'I Never Had a Very Careerist Attitude Towards Rise Against's Music and Message' Ultimate Guitar, 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 01 May 2015. <>.

Page created on 6/3/2015 9:20:11 AM

Last edited 3/26/2019 8:08:43 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links - Biography of Tim McIlrath
YouTube - Interview about homophobia with Tim
YouTube - "Make It Stop" music video