Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The State and Us

I sometimes take part in poetry contests over at the blog, Lutheran Surrealism.  The topic this time around is "The State."  The thought that occurred to me is that for people like me it is very easy to see the state as an almost foreign entity. The state is something that is done to me; it's not my fault!  But there is something problematic about that. It's too easy.  It's dodging responsibility.  And it denies that a democratic state is a reflection of its citizens.

But how can I affect what the state is?  Do I really have any control over it?  The obvious answer is that I can vote.  And I can participate in politics in some fashion.  Sure, that's true.  But I don't think that's the ultimate answer; it's just the obvious one.  

I think that I participate in the state, and particularly its reform, by accepting responsibility for it on the one hand, and on the other by living independently of it, insofar as I am able.  There is no purity in insisting upon my innocence, but there the solution lies in living one's independence, not just thinking about it or bemoaning its loss.

He removed the mirror from his bathroom
In hope that its daily revelation
Would prove untrue.

He perceived words of poetry
That cut into him
As mostly for you.

And the state that he lived with
But could live without
Just grew and grew.

It was his reflection,
Both warts and apathy.
But still he knew...

He knew that the ugliness
And what he couldn't bear to see
Must be you.

Unloveliness, unjustice, untruth...
Inactive, insolvent, indelible...
The state and us.

1 comment:

Bike Bubba said...

Ben--just learned that my sister-in-law concedes she's been a problem drinker/alcoholic for a few years and is taking part in AA. Would you be so kind as to send me a note at my email--bcperry(at)q.com--with any thoughts you have on how we could encourage her? We're thinking of sending a "thinking of you" gift of coffee and decent bread--the former of course being partly inspired by your employment way back when at Caribou.

(and also partially by the stories I've heard of AA being filled with caffeine and nicotine to ease the cravings and such)