From the hunters and gatherers to the farmers and
ranchers to the factory workers and assorted wage
slaves, life has been a sacred thing, tho difficult to hold
onto. Cultivation often meant death and reproduction
even more so. No other icon inspired so much fear
yet equal joyousness.
Who envisioned war and its thousandfold bloodletting?
Who reaped the wealth of violence? What protectors
became murderers? Whose excess spawned revolt?
When the enemy walks among us–of us but not one
of us–we build our prison to keep the others at bay.
The soul has always existed for the powerless.
Charity. Family. Community. Pride.
These are what made us dangerous.
We rose up and demanded happiness.
We learned art and irony and criticism.
We would embrace this world and have it
embrace us too.
How did Power respond?
First came the myth of the conquering individual.
Dependence became a psychological sickness.
Sharing was overwhelmed by property rights.
Collective action became an evil conformity.
Even love was replaced by lust (and an
aggressive form of lust, to boot).
Words were born of a desire to manipulate others.
To lie. To defraud. To gossip and bully. However,
only in close-knit groups could words thus effect us.
As we distanced ourselves, built walls, created laws,
drew all manner of invisible but not imperceptible
lines, words lost their burning teeth, their bittersweet
fatalism and found themselves reborn in the
deceptively peaceful waters of empathy.
How else could we express our severed need for
tribal ritual, spiritual unity, or modest human touch?
Words themselves began to embody a kind of hope.
Somehow our bruised, battered, starved souls
developed a language. Somehow we began to speak
as if speech itself made us alive.
And no matter how often
our words were hurled back at us, poisoned,
we re-invented them, over
and over again.
Copyright 2012 by Michael Marsters.
All rights reserved.