Friday, January 28, 2005

"what will it take" (a rough and ugly piece)

Not a challenge, an insult, or a mockery. Just an overlong rumination, humbly submitted.


so fill me in.
what do i have to do
to achieve your level of untainted
moral clarity? what will it take to
free me from the bonds of country,
tradition, and ideology?

will i have to repent of my past choices,
votes cast for lumbering candidates with backwards
glances and country voices?

very well. bless me, and help me find absolution.

will i have to renounce the values i learned
from my youth? the ideology of my parents and my
teachers and my old time religion?

and what will i replace it with? what's my alternative?
it can't be the philosophy of discontent, of pettiness, of
bitter opposition, that so many of your compatriots espouse?
(is the word "compatriot" offensive?)

of course i shouldn't count you in with that lot--with
those who besmirch your label as badly as others besmirch mine.
it's not fair to nitpick. i apologize.

shall i be a pacifist? then who will show me
what that means and what it does not?

very well. i recant.
i shall turn the other cheek,
and the other town,
and the other country,
and the other ally.
and when the wicked man comes to rape me with his
ideology, and remove my infidel head from my neck,
i will not resist him.

what is left for me to do? what penance, to complete my
transformation? to change me from a glutton, a consumer,
a fascist hellbent on oil-tainted bloodlust and destruction,
to an enlightened, non-violent, socially-conscious, responsible,
environmentally-friendly soul?

what must i give up? my apartment? my job? my material goods?
shall i sell all, and give to the poor? (will others sell all and
give to me? or is it impolite to ask such questions?)
i always thought "enlightenment" was a mental transformation,
not a specific reference to the weight of my goods.
clearly, i was mistaken.

i'm trying to understand. really, i am. (forgive my denseness.)
but on whose backs will utopia be built? granted, clearly,
it's not working in this current system. this I see. so we shall
punish the merchants for buying and selling,
and the rich for their riches, and the powerful for their power.
but who then will dare to buy or sell, to be rich or powerful?
(or is that the point?)

i'm trying not to be facetious. i'm trying to understand.
what have you to offer me? why is your way better than mine?
in your perfect world, the successful will be punished for being
too successful, the mighty must give up their might,
all must work for a harvest they will never enjoy, and those of us
who have (forgive me) been blessed with living in a free society
must constantly bear the shame of having opportunities that
less fortunate others do not.

if you don't mind, there is still something that i can't quite fit
into your doctrine, that i'd like to discuss.

what you never seem to acknowledge is that there are people,
both within our borders and without, who do not value
this kind of "enlightenment;" who see pacifism as a weakness
to crush beneath iron boots.
(perhaps i am still victim of my own people's propaganda.)

but do you really think that you can force your "enlightenment" onto
the peoples of the world, even if some have declared you
to be their enemy based on your birthplace,
or your language, or your fair skin?
and if they will not accept your moral clarity,
will you let them slay you, as they have promised to do?
will you allow them to destroy your perfect
society, with their opposing worldview and suicide missionaries?
(or is that the point?)

this is a mystery too great for me to understand.
i am too corrupted by a love of my life, of my culture,
of my country. i fear i will never find peace
in your progressive nirvana.
what it would take is for me to undo myself
and become you.

(or is that the point?)

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