Monday, November 14, 2016

feel others' sorrows as your own

too many hurt

racism, sexism, misogyny,
fear of the other,
a retreat into the tribal,
a retreat to those like us, near us,
for we have a need to feel of worth
and those like us reassure us,
and those not like us 
help us to know who we are
because we’re not like them,

many of us are reeling now from those dark currents,

I know and love enough people of color,
enough Muslims, enough gay and lesbians, enough women,
that they are part of my tribe,
and I can hurt as they hurt,
Gandhi believed that 
“the real lovers of God 
feel others’ sorrows as their own,”

I also grew up in a “fly-over” state, Tennessee, 
with working class folks, for whom college was not a given,
who lived for football and NASCAR,
Dolly and Dollywood surely worth time and the price of a ticket,
for each speaks true to who they are,
the streets of Gatlinburg a comfort, not an affront,
these are folks who I think often work harder than any on Wall Street
and receive compensation for their work
insulting in how little society values their sweat,
the pain within body and soul that their work can demand,
and they can feel the ridicule and contempt that elites have for them,
the lack of concern that monied interests have for them,
those who manipulate government and trade as a way to fill their own pockets,

look at any map of red and blue states from the last election,
the great expanse of America between the two coasts is red,
as is every part of America that is rural and small town,
the coasts are mostly blue,
I heard a comment that many who live in New York and Boston
travel to Paris but rarely to the Heartland,
they can love the people as a group but not as individuals,

I know the economy of Gatlinburg, TN, and so did Karl Marx,
those who work, and work hard,
are paid barely enough to get by, if that,
while the few live in luxury and own the land, the economy,
I once told a Presidential candidate, to his face,
that he should live on minimum wage for a month:
no food, no entertainment, no health care, no gas for the car
that minimum wage won’t pay for,
and I got nowhere with him,

I love New York based shows
but I increasingly hear the ridicule within their humor,
how can we dismiss the tribalism those flown-over can feel and act upon,
and not realize that they have been dismissed 
and easily can slip into dismissing when they have the power?

my sense of self must grow even larger
to feel the wisdom in the gut
that so many expressed in their votes 
against the system they feel rigged,
yet I still can’t get past the pain
so many, so easily visited upon the other in voting for Trump,
and thus for the many flaws he flagrantly expressed.

by Henry H. Walker

November 12, ‘16

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It's so good to read this, Henry. Once again, I feel exactly the same way, and it's a comfort to know that you are out there feeling & thinking as I am, even though we see one another so seldom.

One thing: "figure this all out" - as soon as I hear myself say those words about anything, I know I'm in trouble. As though somehow I would be able to truly figure out hatred in some way that I would find comforting.