then as now

some people may be surprised
to find that I spend a lot of life
rummaging around in the past
not because I long for some nirvana
that was better than now – not at all
but because it seems so like now

my bible fascinates with its killing
hatred, persecution, and capture
along with inspirational moments
where the hero – usually a hero, but
there are exceptions to type casting
is reborn, freed into consciousness

just as exhilarating are Tudor times
lies, deception, sexual deviance and
inevitable religious shenanigans
blood and gore soak every page
tortured bodies, ripped apart, burnt
as heretics are shamed and eliminated

thank whatever you hold sacred
we live now in civilized times
sleek, sophisticated, scientific
past the cruelty and ignorance
of God infused societies
rational to the nth degree

but then as now, are myriad times
when I can smell the smoke
hear the mob howling for blood
see the heretic, shamed
pilloried on multiple platforms
scapegoated for our iniquities

As I age, I understand that there is no time when humanity becomes a better version of itself. Nor is there any genre of vindictive punishment that has much impact, other than to further harden and shame the people we wish would change because we hold them responsible for some hurt or crime.

In fact, the only person we have any hope of changing, or improving, is our own self. A crucial part of that process is coming to terms with the darkness within. To understand and befriend it, allowing it to resolve in positive ways, and to refrain from pushing it out onto others. You could argue it’s a life’s work.

Image: Shame for The New Yorker by Eiko Ojala

2 Replies to “then as now”

  1. Wow! I can relate to some of this so well. But I believe we do make progress individually and as humanity, and then we backslide and hopefully make more progress. I can’t think of a time other than now that I would want to live in, even if I want to change a lot of things about now.

    1. Thanks again Shannon. I tend to see it as life spiraling around and around. We seem to come back to the same old issues but from a different perspective every time and perhaps more wisdom.

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