Friday 29 March 2024

A Deathless Word

Love.  There have been so many things written about this word.  Often quoted, rarely understood.  The depth and nuance of this idea.  Its all-encompassing power.  Those of us lucky enough to have been touched by some form of genuine love know its ability to heal a broken heart and mend a fractured mind.  Love is needed now more than ever.  Contextual agility, the appreciation of nuance and pain.  The recognition of trauma.  After all, the entire human family is at war right now.  Aren't we?  Sometimes it feels like we have always been at war.  With our brothers and sisters, with ourselves.  Angels and demons locked in battle within our psyches.  The sons and daughters of Abram have been estranged for the last two thousand years.  We murder, deceive and distort in the names of our various gods.  Our various mystery-cults and local flavours of myth-making. Each of us calling ourselves righteous as we indulge in this hideous global familicide.  Are we not all brothers and sisters?  Are we not all fathers, mothers, daughters and sons?  I believe we are.  In fact, I know it to be true.  And this darkened realm of violence and hatred is not what I would wish for my beloved family, nor you for yours I suspect.  The real war is within, of course.  The War of Imagination.  The war between shadow and light.  There are many of us who grasp this instinctively.  Those among us who would end these countless reigns of terror if we could.  Those who would show us a different way.  A gentler, kinder form of communion with the divine.  And with each other.  Love is a grand, often selfless word.  Full of mystery, power and benevolent magic.  It hurts that we live in a world where sacrifice is even necessary.  A world where parents often go without to ensure their children have barely enough.  But we all know the truth of these things.  I wish nothing but peace for my brothers and sisters.  This entire human family.  But how far must we go to protect the ones we love?  What would we ourselves be willing to sacrifice?

Friday 22 March 2024

The Poet's Lie

The redundancy of a poet's words can be such a heart-breaking thing.  It's not something we like to think about, because we like to imagine time is short.  Our words urgent, vital and necessary.  Sometimes that's true.  But if you live long enough, if you survive often enough while everyone around you perishes, you begin to see the short-sightedness of even the holiest forms of speech.  Children displaced by war understand the redundancy of comforting words in a way that most adults never will.  Parents torn from their families, left staggering, haunted and blind – they know the truth of this too.  Live long enough in the presence of hollow words and you begin to wonder how mankind allows such atrocity and injustice.  Power, religiosity, greed; all hidden under a thousand congenial masks.  A vicious swell of molten violence always gathering, always threatening beneath our feet.  As though humanity gives greater care to making hell than it does to making love, or art.  We have made the world a terrifying inferno.  Poets know the truth of this too, of course.  But our yearning for meaning is so great; so enamoured are we with notions of insight, rhythm or grace.  How can a poet's words mean something more than cruel sentiment to a ravaged child, a shattered soul, or an utterly broken world?  How can such an individual still believe in angels?  I wish I had the answers, but I don't.  We fetishize, dehumanize and turn away.  We pretend our various leaders are something other than hideous warlords, cultists and profiteers.  We give them pass after pass and entertain the bread and circuses they engineer for us.  Nonsense that can be bought, sold or streamed.  I suppose I understand it in a way.  In the modern world we imagine our souls as fiction.  Our spiritual, interior lives.  We believe that nothing really exists beyond the physical realm.  We think of ourselves as spiritually unreal, so of course our children are equally unreal.  Of course we turn away from the horror and devastation in their eyes.  But we know it's a lie, deep down.  We know the history of Earth is a history of unimaginable cruelty and suffering.  All cultures and tribes.  A thousand pointless wars.  Light, beauty and joy do exist, of course.  Everywhere, in great abundance.  Because the human heart shines so brightly despite the darkness.  But such light matters little to a child who has been disavowed by a world that was supposed to protect her.  Words of intended wisdom and beauty ring hollow in her ears, if she can still hear at all.  I know this is unsettling to read.  I hold back tears as I write this.  I’m not asking anyone to ignore the light, or turn away from hope.  But I suppose in the end the most salient question is, ‘Who do we continue following into the dark?  Whose lies mean the most, or have the most utility – the poets or the profiteers?’