Evolving perspective (stream-of-consciousness poem)

I began this soon after the election in November, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I finished it this past weekend.

**
We categorize and decide what is and should be
these broad sweeping labels cross borders and state lines
dividing this from that, us from them,
and we find ourselves pointing our fingers at each other

We go on defense
I’m not like that, I’m not like them,
It’s you who is pointing the finger, not me

Maybe all our fingers are pointing at someone
Maybe we want an explanation, a rationale,
someone to applaud, someone to blame

When we generalize,
we can cut others down to

less than life-size.

It’s hard to be part of the problem and
part of the solution,
our cells are divided and our selves are
torn and
our communities are split into
many
different

pieces.

Sometimes, we turn away from
each other even
when we literally stand
side-by-side.

I don’t know
if i can tell you that
it’s always best to turn to each other
when we’ve got our boxing gloves on

I want to say:
Put the gloves down first, then listen.

What if we aren’t really fighting each other
but a system
that keeps us separate, apart
the words unify and compromise
don’t go very deep
when they’re used to
pacify, console,
cajole, silence.

We are a nation of many people,
interests, and opinions.

We are a nation of many communities,
individuals, identities.

Perhaps we have many definitions of what
freedom means,
whether freedom opens doors for free thought
or guarantees security
and safety from what?
the world outside our neighborhoods
an existential threat
a real life danger
the story changes with each teller

I want to be realistic without losing
my idealism, but it’s hard to live the
everyday reality where rights are
peeled away, day by day.

I tell myself to breathe,
take care,
take small steps.

Another day, another headline, with
more fears brought to light.
I watch the protests, the brave souls
on the front lines

I want to say
I am ready and willing to fight.
I see people comment about
the best way to stand up:
what and when and how and where…

I pick my battles, follow my own rhythm.
I pick up my pen
and begin.
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