“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places (and there are so many) where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself
a marvelous victory.”
~ Howard Zinn (patriot, historian, and author)
grant writing machine;
interns bumping elbows
as they scrounge for numbers,
measurables and specific goals;
conference room foundations
rolling out pie charts
smiling proudly in photographs
to prove they played their part.
I don’t want another bumper sticker
extolling virtuous messages:
rainbows with equal signs,
fish with legs,
or silhouettes of doves
stuck to the back
of SUV trucks.
I don’t want another rally for sanity
for the stagnate middle-class
or sit-ins, firebrand activists
hand-cuffed to fellow citizens.
I don’t want another support group,
or some other social circular feedback loop
or retreat center
or vacation spot
only to return to what we’ve got.
I don’t want another hard-cover book,
another undercover look at
some government’s malicious
exploitation of an expanding population.
I don’t want another news story
or another documentary film
fixating on the dwindling light
that we can’t seem to find within.
I don’t want to sign
another on-line petition
to give a worthy cause some decent attention:
Blasting mountains open for coal
Rising ocean levels
Drowning polar bears
Another ancestral language lost
Stop drilling off the shores
Stop sifting sand for oil
Keep an eye on Burma
No more settlements in Palestine
Send aid to the Haitians
Don’t put that toxic shit in my backyard
Don’t raise another cell tower
Stop shooting the coyotes
who seem to huddle
and call to us from the edges of
only to remind us of the dangers
of our diminishing immunity.
I don’t want to eulogize another hero
or build another cement or metal memorial
or sing another ballad
about a war or battle or uprising;
it only seems to legitimize the limited reality
seen through their eyes.
And then it becomes the only memories
molded, welded, and fixed onto the landscape —
stone faces and iron shoulders
reminding us of the cold days we can’t escape.
I don’t want to wave another flag
or raise another flag
or march in line and salute;
it’s so World War II
these human assembly lines that
only know to destroy and pollute.
I don’t want matching T-shirts
or the brave overtaking of courtrooms
pouring oil over their bodies
piling waste in front of city halls
screaming “justice!” from the outside walls
of an edifice of reticence.
I don’t want another meeting
with neatly planned-out schedules,
with facilitated discussions
the overwhelming repercussions
of centuries of power abuse;
the victim shakes the fist of justice…
the intimidator shakes the fist of justice
and there is no truce.
I don’t want any hot air balloons
advertising something to soothe the wounds
of a fractured state of being;
or giant, human sculptures
with aerial photographs that spell out
desperate things like “out of Iraq!”
I don’t want another Presidential debate
because it’s all too late.
I want change:
I want change…
Not another arrangement
of this derangement
with it’s rampant hypocrisy
and flagrant burglary;
we’re all part of this murdering.
I want the change
that will somehow
reveal to us the original trauma.
I want the change
that will smooth
the edges of our control drama.
I want the change
that will certainly smile
as the doors go flying open,
one at a time
that have been buried in our haste
for something that will make it all better.
At what point was life not enough?
At what point did the heart not matter?
At what point did the mind only know to flatter
this tattered reality,
immobilizing any chance
of remembering the breath
that breaths us without our asking,
multi-tasking one thousand movements
one step forward is a decadent
display of what may be
a step closer to living —
forgiving the benediction
that we’ve been giving attention to:
caged hearts always have to give way
at some point…
the bars have to give…
Let in the pain.
Let in the grief.
Let’s go deeper to find the relief.
November 26, 2010 — feeling frustrated and full of love all at once… For more info on Eco Arts Awards, go here.