Friday, July 24, 2015

Our Greatest Enemies

Our Greatest Enemies 

I conferred with a local sage, to whom
I made complaints about the threats we face
from enemies.  But this is what he said.

“At times, our greatest enemies might be
ourselves.  And this is true of beings and
communities, of cities, nation states…

“A family can tear itself apart,
a neighborhood descend towards a hell,
an institution crumble from its weight.

“In civil wars, we murder neighbors, friends.
And our addictions are our lifelong jails,
in which we turn to mutilating selves.
“An entity that’s self-destructing can’t
withstand another’s blows that speed its death.
Defense begins with healing, first, ourselves.
“Oppression breeds resentments.  These will turn
to rubble every fort that serfdom builds.
So those who’re slavers might in time be slaves.
“Be vigilant towards yourself, far more
than towards another—yet be gentle, kind.
Who treats a being poorly must be blind.
“Reserve contempt for those whose evil is
unchecked by reason or remorse, but spare
the ones who err—as every being does.
“Look not abroad, nor look above for hope.
There’s hope in those around, though well concealed.
Begin with self—and nurture well that plant.

“And also do not judge, while ignorant,
the other tribes or nations.  Let them be.
Take care of what’s amiss, in where you live.”

I thanked him for his wisdom and I left.
But walking home I wondered why I’d gone
to hear this softie tell me all this shit.

Our enemies were real—Russia, China and Iran,
aligned to trick us and to do us in,
with dolts like Mr. Wise in government.

The current pope was none but Antichrist.
And Mexico was sending us their trash
that joined with Blacks to murder and to rape.

And I had enemies enough—at work,
among the neighbors—even family.
It’s best, I thought, to buy another gun.


Our greatest enemies, I’d say, are those
who make believe we really haven’t any—
except, of course, our own benighted selves.

But those like me will keep their basements stocked
with ammunition, guns and more supplies
we'll need to deal with all our enemies.

They all are jealous of the things we have.
They hate our freedoms and despise our faith.
And that is why we've got to bomb Iran.

We need to exercise our force abroad
Before they get a chance to come at us.
We've nukes enough that we should put to use.


We've got to show the world that we are tough
And will protect our global interests,
So they had better never mess with us.

I'm hearing now the tape of his "advice".
The more I hear, the angrier I get.
I'll put the bastard's name and more online.

2015 July 21st Tue & 23rd Thu
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York
Given the times we live in, I should state that the second half of this piece is satire.  Of course, some readers might say that of the first half.

Also, like all poems, this one, despite its imperfections, does need more than one quick reading.  Poems need some amount of reflection
not necessarily agreement, but comprehension and consideration.  I do realize that the times and pressures we live in may not be conducive to that.  
To some degree, poetry, like nature, by requiring or inducing this slowing down and reflection, can serve as an antidote to the speeding up we have been experiencing.  
This acceleration is a hallmark of commerce, especially of industry, which requires the worker to work at speed to produce maximum profit.  This attitude has been internalized by many of us, and shows itself in the impatience that often marks those who live or work in the cities.  I see this in myself and in those around me at work.
This hurry is, I believe, contrary to our own deeper nature and is detrimental to our survival and tranquility.  The mantra "Speed up. Time is money." perhaps needs replacing with "Slow down.  Life needs to be savored.  Attention needs to be paid."  
If more of us would follow this alternative, many of the unnecessary problems we facefrom conflicts at home and in the workplace to those between nations, might be greatly reduced, along with all the suffering these bring about.  
Of course, it is difficult to stop in the midst of a stampede without getting trampled.  But if sufficient numbers slow down around us, beginning, perhaps, with ourselves, we might be able to enjoy a bit of sanity and attend more to the things that really need attending to.  

The lecture ends here.  ;-) You don't have to re-read my stuff.  Thanks for reading till here.  
Go in peace.  Shaantih.  Salaam.  Shalom.

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