balladeer of moons

171,574 poems read

Why We Shoot Each Other

Why We Shoot Each Other.


When I open Newsweek magazine and find it a tangle of truisms and success-loving impressions, it is not a great distance to a set of principles outlining the reasons why we have slid into the degringolade of emotions that leads us to act like violent and resentful savages. We have made life so artificial and inhuman that even a modest amount of thought hurls the individual into a vortex of confusion, dissonance and rage.

There are natural realities like birth, death, the movement of the planets, a priori Newtonian laws -- and there is the human construction of social reality. We have set up our society in such a way that we divorce ourselves from what we are, from our essential humanity. We feel uncomfortable and unimportant when we are treated as unfeeling objects to be manipulated for gain. We feel overpowered by the variegated "gods" of a totalitarian TV culture and are pulverized into a psychological nothingness. We are compelled to lead lives of vicarious prestige in order to feel valid and whole. We have become the mere playthings of alienating powers and soulless administrations.

An honest and creative attempt at intelligent compassion seems too hard for us. Living up to self-romanticizing images of ourselves, borrowed from popular culture, preoccupies our time and effort.

I do not have otherworldly beings whispering the secrets of the universe in my ear. I do not know the meaning of life but I have learned that the meaning of life is not things,
and I try not to form emotional dependencies on them. We treat objects with more respect than we treat each other. Why is it any wonder that some members of society, probably with an already precarious chemical configuration, feel so devalued that they fly into murderous rages?

Looking for happiness in the facades of this made-up world is like trying to pick up mercury with a fork; or, as a co-worker of mine once put it, "Everyday we are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."

Material and social production is a fact of nature. Carpenter ants do it; so do bees. But they don’t mass murder one another or try to exterminate their whole colony. So far, our larger brain stem has not helped us but put us on a course of racial suicide.

We have moved from being wanderers of savannahs to pedestrians of the solar system, yet we have not been successful in establishing a peaceful planetary community that observes mutual cooperation and the simple law of reciprocity.

Where can we look for answers and guidance except scripture and poetry which no one takes the time to read except at funerals and weddings? With our journalism and "intellectual" magazines bearing more and more a resemblance to People, and their writers all but conceding that technology has replaced abstract thought and spirit, it is a pretty sure wager that our past great writers are all we have and the closest we will get to any vital truth.