POEM: Albatross Necklace Futures

I stared at the world
I could have built
Had I
Grasped more
Farce fully
A stock pile
but reaching
Heaven
Falling short
Of mature stature
Leaving behind
Child’s
The ripe now
And not trading in
Futures
Of albatross necklaces
Adorned by all

This poem is a tip of the hat to the story of the Tower of Babel, where mankind tries quite literally to build a stairway to heaven.  This tale of is perhaps even more true now than when it was first told.  With advances in and technology the notion of building a socialist paradise that saves from its own perennial moral dilemmas seems all the more possible, and therefore, tempting.  Of course, knowledge is no sin; but, the to think that you can cheat is.  There are no technological means to bypass , , and or .  Humans are the proper instrument for , , and .  Any worldview that negates by pretending that can somehow be bypassed, along with its unavoidable moral responsibility, is idolatrous.  is simply constructing the foundation of one’s (whatever you consider authoritative) on images of rather than itself.  Simply put, humans cannot create a world where they no longer need to be good, that is make moral choices, with their commensurate or “costs”, which include , , and

Any or social system can function idolatrously, if it is considered an end not the means to something greater.  Such rigid, graven images impair proper human functioning, which is relational, not simply a “thing” to be better sculpted.  The something greater is dynamic living relationships.  In terms, the great commandments are relational as loving God and loving neighbor.  Unfortunately, humans are quite adept at over-concretizing spiritual truths and settling for worshiping the stone images (e.g., ten commandments) printed word (e.g., Bible), or any system of thought, rather than the to which they point: God and neighbor.  Inasmuch as we stop and settle for an of what our relationships should be, we actually step outside of that living relationship and kill it.  In Judaism, Christianity, and (the “”), God keeps it very simple by declaring to Moses to tell the people only “I am who I am” (or, “I will be what I will be.”)  The rest involves having a relationship with the “I am who I am.”  Of course, in modern secularism, this is epically avoided by denying even the existence of “I am who I am.”  Not surprisingly, the “I am who I am” residing within us all gets short shrift and is left to define itself simply by its material aspects, limiting it’s to “I am what I am” — which I call the Popeye fallacy.  The Popeye fallacy omits a dimension of our being, leaving us a mirror caricature.  Much alienation in modern is rooted in mistaking humans as “what” not “who.”  People are not things, at least not things alone.  To add to the irony and epic misdirection, legal fictions like corporate “personhood” are considered “human,” while humans have difficulty mustering such status.  Such battles over what a person is, a who or a what, may very well define our age.  May we have the wisdom to know the difference!

Of course, this poem frames the epic theme of idolatrous on a more modest, individual level.  often hides in the “humble” context of the individual, with a built in rationalization that one person cannot make the difference.  This itself is an amoral or immoral act.  always plays out among individual moral agents.  This is the very point of what is often avoided by shifting agency onto , deflecting moral agency altogether, or claiming that “the devil made me do it” (insert ‘terrorist’ for ‘devil’ to upgrade to “modern” worldview).

Lastly, moral agency is played out in real , the now.  Respecting the relational process of being human, which is inherently subjective, must favor the present over some conception or of a end.  More simply put, humans are ends in themselves, not to be subjugated to another’s systems of images of the .  Keeping it real means honoring humans as participants in this process, always valuing who people are more than what they are, or even what they may be.  I suspect that in God, the “I am who I am,” is trusting that the greater is lived out by focusing on who, not what.  This may very well be the inseparable of loving God and loving neighbor, each reinforcing one another in mutuality.  May it be so.

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