On both the smaller stages of local politics and the larger stage of world relations we seem to have lost the ability to work in harmony with each other. Everything is about deception and the game within the game. We join together to explore space and turn it into an arms race. Our religions promise love and deliver hatred. We ban together to defeat disease and then work to find even deadlier germs. We will create something by the accidental, the fortuitous interaction of people and events and then fight until we have destroyed it. We are like children playing with blocks or building sand castles. The joy seems to be not in the creation but in the destruction.
We are a world ruled by impulse decisions. Society is buried in the ashes of actions fueled by emotion and then we bring in the analysts to dig through the rubble and try to find a reason to explain the mess.
It is an endless cycle delivered by leaders unable to rise above the latent anger that fuels the fires, and citizens without the courage to stand up and demand something different. I wrote the poem “Am I a Man” (Daydreams, Snap Screen Press, 2004) to ask the question whether we as individuals still have the courage to stand up and do the “right” thing when everyone seems to be moving against us. Lately everyone seems to pick a side and ride it to the bitter end regardless of the damage it may do to our society or broader civilization.
And of course defining “right” is the big issue. To me it falls into the “you know it when you see it” category. See how comfortable you feel when you are carrying the pitchfork and you will probably have your answer.
At any rate, I hope in this coming election, we will hold our leaders to a higher standard than we have in the past. I hope we will all have the courage to raise our hand and take our country to a better place.
Am I a Man
I am a man, I am a man,
A man I am, if only I can,
If only I can, take a stand,
If I can stand, and raise my hand.
When honor calls, calls me to stay,
While others called, are fading away,
I hope that day, I can display,
The strength within, to find my way.
When I see crowds, in panic fly,
And in that panic, the truth deny,
Trampling in hate, those who defy,
The panicked flight to invented lie.
Then I’ll find if I am a man,
If against that crowd I can then stand,
Can I stand and raise my hand, Stop
From saying, “I’m only a man”.