Wisdom Courage Insight

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Social Classes, 1984

safe in my tower,
small cares occupy my mind.
outside weapons are firing,
conflict is raging,
the struggle,
over what i have, use, and want.
this way of life, they say,
is guaranteed by blood and courage.
I want no violence, no coercion,
can i give it up and stop the guarantee?
then it will have been for naught, they say.
someone must live this life,
and so it might as well be me?
I pray to my God about it. She says
• Every moment is an opportunity,
• to bring peace into the world,
• sometimes close and sometimes far away.
• This peace is guaranteed by blood and courage,
• and takes a form of refusing to engage violation,
• opposing it with rage and tears, futility and pleading.
• Sometimes such opportunities are for naught or missed.
• Even then they are valiant as embraced,
• for they demonstrate the primacy of compassion,
• do not dwell on revenge or hatred,
• and yet acknowledge them as real,
• sitting in fear or anger.

safe in my tower,
large cares intrude as a discourse about
the struggle for dwindling goods and recreations.
I am not someone who put down a weapon,
I avoided them, spoke against them,
asked for the clamour and harsh words to stop.
I am weak and insignificant compared
to the standing armies of power.

when the banners of war are flown, i lament.
when my way of life is protected by waterboarding,
and drone missiles, safely operating at a distance,
i want my leaders to be held accountable,
yet even their warcrimes are excused as necessary,
their terrible deeds an urgent necessity,
and the country they serve largely looks away,
explaining that violence is the way we keep safe.

will there come a time when violence will be required?
shall i persist in this privilege without being honourable?
are the valiant deeds of violence laudable?
is the choice to meet coercion with pleading courageous?
didn't i have enough pleading and begging
when the violence of my treatment for my transgressions paused?

safe in my tower,
just a tender fleeting moment while i am allowed
to continue the happy chance of luck and birth,
alive in a peace zone,
but this safety, this peace, is just another facade,
the shifting miracle of blasting furnaces in the sky,
a dramatic pause of held breath,
contained tension while rats and ants chew their way in,
and the civilization taxes us to make sure we know
who is really in charge, who controls and will manage
the munching, killing maelstrom happening all around.

towers are yet plentiful here.
in a newly conquered land,
fresh from diseases wiping out the indigenous people
who weren't put to death for nonconformity.
the party is far from over,
and it is predictable that far away,
where these values have persisted for centuries,
the meritorious courage
is occasioned by more war, more violence,
waves of instability and strife,
as each successive generation
strips off another layer for food and bears more children.
oblivious of both the larger consequences of breeding
and the increasingly violent basis for what is called peace.

George of the Orwellian Jungle nods, sagely:
war is peace, freedom is security, and hope is futile.
what can Mr. Smith ever really do against Washington?
how can the tools of torment
ever bring the same level of fear and panic
to the Machine as they can and will to the lone dissenter?

trapped in my tower, war banners flying around us,
it will be too late to bring sense, peace, security, or hope into being,
while drums sound and peace officers are militarized.
as long as development and economies flourish
we can rest assured that our futures are sound,
our values are pursued with the best of intentions,
our violent leaders are trustworthy,
and the violent protectors of our stuff won't turn on us,
until we can be demonstrated not to have been born
with the right family connections,
with the proper colour of skin and length of hair,
or fail to furnish the right people with something they want.

the Crying Buddha sighs,
war planes with Wheels of Destiny are constructed in factories,
and when the Lord of Dharma knocks on our door
and alerts me that it is now my turn to serve,
my duty to slay others in the defense of our future,
our children, our economy and development,
i must say i want no part of this violence,
will pick up no weapon,
do not believe violence ever helps resolve anything,
and oppose those who promote and sustain it,
though i be subjected to the very torments
against which i am warned
by my guardian captors.

if this life is founded on the blood of countless generations,
if this peace is brought about
by thanking past warriors on Veterans Day,
if this freedom is earned by agreeing to slay other human beings,
if this hope is gained
by supporting endless childbearing and development,
then let me find out how to respect those with whom i disagree,
let me have the courage to refuse to become my nation's murderer,
let me see the wisdom of remaining barren and living simply.

copyright 2018, a taoist city monk (nagasiva yronwode)