"A man went before a strange God --
The God of many men, sadly wise.
And the deity thundered loudly,
Fat with rage, and puffing.
"Kneel, mortal, and cringe
And grovel and do homage
To My Particularly Sublime Majesty."
The man fled.
Then the man went to another God --
The God of his inner thoughts.
And this one looked at him
With soft eyes
Lit with infinite comprehension,
And said, "My poor child!"
Sometimes I think that we must all take to the ramparts. The martial metaphors lack force, although I have always loved the way the Salvation Army uniforms look. Further, whereas at one time, I imagined we could hold the castles against invaders, now I wonder if the castle has not already been captured.
There's a kind of quiet liberation in the idea that the national government no longer provides any alliance or progress in solving the social problems at hand. There is, of course, the hope that eventually we will all vote in more responsive government. But in the meantime, the idea that people have to uphold the things that matter in their own neighborhoods, house to house, as it were, appeals to me. We've stood by while others have taken evolution from our classroom, and politicized our textbooks.
So many battles are lost outside the beltway, away from talking heads on cable news and graduates of schools of government. They take place where local school boards ban worthy books. They take place when a singer or band needs a gig in a town without proper clubs. They take place when poetry remains unread, and art unseen. They are battles in the animal shelter, and the homeless shelters. They're battles to open free clinics, birth control advisories, and test preparation centers for the penniless college bound. In these Flanders fields, people adopt
unwanted kids past infancy, donate cans to the food bank, and do acts even as simple as those sword strokes struck by those who patronize neighborhood cafes.
We've slept while people ceased to believe in science, in the social safety net, and in thrift. We've stood by while the things we love have been taken from us.
I'm not much the warrior type, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's not time to rosin the bows. I am a skeptic about slings and arrows, but I believe in love, in the intellect, and in compassion. Perhaps those are things I can learn to defend.