Written to accompany a Christmas gift of Revolutionary Love by Rabbi Michael Lerner...
Our waitress may be rapid-tongued,
though cheerful (for the tip).
Perspiring cooks flip pancakes
where we begin our trip.
Photos line the fake wood grain,
a century of pride.
Generations building war planes,
gaining victories for our side.
Next we crowd the airport gate,
discerning social clues
for how it is we must behave
to keep what we could lose.
And then I board the aircraft
with my stepson and my wife
and ponder how it was these things
became our way of life—
how we became entitled
through happenstance of birth
to eat three squares, to travel thus
on not-yet-ravaged earth.
We may think we choose our actions
on principles well-founded,
but more likely rationalize them
off of those we’ve been surrounded.
Once we judged the white folk
who viewed slavery as the norm.
But aren’t we just as oblivious,
as willing to conform?
No barrel for the plastic,
fuel burned without compunction—
maintaining time-worn patterns
of disposal and consumption.
As though this weren’t all finite,
that it is somehow ok
for each species to be downsized
till we join them in the clay.
For the globe that’s market-driven
has no human at the wheel—
sees nothing past the bottom line,
a reality surreal.
Though ‘tis the season to be jolly
and seek comfort from the weather,
there is so much to grieve alone,
seems time we grieve together.
From that grief may we find courage
to stand up for each other,
extend the line who we define
as sister or as brother.
The community thanksgiving,
instead of once per year,
may soon be happening daily—
if we can still the fear.
Aren't we now beyond protections
that may be bought or hoarded?
Will it be by what we give away
that we end up rewarded?
What worth my private comforts,
on which I have been leaning,
if a life based on self-interest
is one devoid of meaning?
Will climate and extinction
be the classless equalizer,
intervention on a system
strung out on some tranquilizer?
For, regardless if we see it,
we are still slave and master.
Just ask who stitched your clothing
or survived the last disaster.
What we’ve been sold, if truth be told,
Ne’er sat right with me.
And on reflection I believe
the same would hold for thee.
For we each have common interest
that we’ve long been kept from knowing,
to keep us all divided,
which keeps this system going.
Supremacy and racism
are means to someone’s end.
That someone is your master
charading as your friend.
This master has more money
than all of us combined.
We may have far more people,
but our people are resigned,
weary and discouraged
in need of clear direction.
Of necessities these souls may lack
the greatest is connection.
And so I humbly petition
recipients of this gift
to consider how this author’s thoughts
might bring about a shift
in those with whom you interact,
ideally when in-person,
illuminate the darkness,
by drawing back the curtain.
These times can leave one feeling
it only can get worse.
Why bother organizing?
Why bother writing verse?
Whatever confidence I’ve found
to prod my comfort zone
was nurtured in the family
I’m blessed to have here known.