Saturday, September 5, 2020

When and How Much and To What Effect?

I just read that Mr. Roger’s widow, at 92 years old, spoke out sternly and strongly about the lack of character in our alleged leader and the utter disaster of his reign. Her husband tried to see the good in everyone and told children “I like you just the way you are.” But she insinuated that he would have a hard time saying that to this dubious excuse for a human being. 


Another poet recently confessed that he tried to keep out of politics and speak to the humanity within us all. Until now, when he felt he needed to say something about what was happening in our country. 


Who with good conscience can be silent these days? Silence has always been compliance and never more so than today. Silence contributes to violence and without each of us speaking out from our little corner of outrage, the atrocities will continue unopposed. The illusion that silence is a choice comes from a perceived privilege that these things don’t affect you. But besides the moral paucity of such a stance, there is also great delusion to imagine that the incompetent handling of the pandemic will have no effect on you or the purposeful ignoring of climate change or the permission for police to murder. Silence needs to be taken off the optional list.


But then comes the question: when does one speak and how much and if it creeps into every human interaction (as you may have noticed in these blogposts!), might it start to wear down the listener and lose its impact? I’ve noticed that a cute picture of the grandkids on Facebook will get triple the number of likes and comments than any of my political commentary. 


And I get it. We are just starved for some semblance of normal, when a simple walk through the park or fun board game with the family or funny movie on TV can be enjoyed without having to think about the horrors just outside the door. I have no answer here. Just the question. 


And when it comes to considering questions with no simple answers, poetry is the place to go. Here’s one I wrote a few years ago. 




© 2017 Doug Goodkin


A Spring day in February in Golden Gate Park. 


The sun emerged after five days of constant rain without

a single person voting for it.


The Congress of trees met and the plums, a clear minority,

spoke their piece in pink fragrant blossoms without the others shutting them down.


No dam Cabinet leader blocked the flow of the gurgling stream nor shouted to drown out its merry burbling song. 


No one insulted the pink bulbs beginning to open or foreclosed the homes of the nesting birds or banned the bees from entering the flower. 


No one claimed that Spring didn’t really exist or built a wall to keep out the migrating winged creatures. 


On a Spring day in February in Golden Gate Park,


True democracy prevailed. 

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