This poem came in response to a printed document I found. It was from ancestry.com, listing the census information on my grandfather. The census document from which the data was taken dated to 1930. It listed his average workweek as a butcher at 60 hours per week.
It occurred to me, that there are not many, these days, who would work those hours, week in and week out, for what now is worth about $36,000 per year. I also know from family lore, that at least one weekend day at the local market was involved in this calculation. Family lore, as I recall, says he raised guinea pigs and had a vegetable garden, as well as a butcher shop.
I asked myself what the difference was, between the lifestyles back then and today. Since the Depression had just started, and war was on its way, my grandfather may have been happy to have any kind of job. How can a modern person, in today’s cushy, convenience-ridden world, begin to understand, exerting that much effort to earn money, and even more effort, to economize and squirrel it away? Would we even know how to do it? Perhaps with inflation and recession rearing their ugly heads, we had better figure that out soon.
Not only are we lazy when it comes to work. We also have lost rigor in our ability to think and tell right from wrong. Our focus dims to a blur, as we hypnotically stare at screens all day. This laziness of thought and diversion of our attention from important things may pose the greater danger, should Evil ever come our way.
The solution to our predicament, I think, lies in discipline, something many of us–including me– have strayed far away from. I can see my father–and perhaps my grandfather–waggling his finger at me.
Hope you enjoy this chastening poem, even if you, too, recognize yourself as the object of its criticism.
We startle, at the bugle call,
The screeching bagpipe’s blow.
We check the clock and rub our eyes,
Annoyed, at what we know–
It’s time to wake! As if mere Time
Could govern us, asleep!
We roll right over, mashing buttons,
To our dreams, retreat.
The army and the navy men
And women, long awake,
Are marching in formation,
As in bed, our time we take.
Their beds are crisp, with linen
Tucked in hospital-like corners.
Their guns are cleaned, their ammo near,
In case of any Foreigners.
How do our Elders view our ways,
The sturdy and the brave?
While we just sofa-sit and chill,
They’re turning in their graves!
How little, we resemble those
Who struggled for our rights,
While smiling devils toe the line,
And call the Darkness, Light.
A half a day around the world:
Loud shouting, in the streets.
A government attempts a coup.
The Law is in retreat.
When Right is Left and Up is Down,
And all is rank confusion,
How do we know, which side we’re on–
Of Right, or of Illusion?
We scroll our screens and sad, lament
The state of other places.
We send our likes and shares
As proper prayers, for other faces.
But God forbid, we organize.
And God forbid! It’s true–
Results are much the same,
No matter what we say or do.
But Discipline, ah, Discipline,
which buttered once our bread–
They say, the latest survey says
That Discipline is dead.
The ones that did their jumping jacks
Each morn at half-past six
Now lounge about, with phone in hand,
And thumb, for likes and clicks.
What kind of weird hitchhiking, this?
And dangerous, no less.
For bodies turn to flab
And dreams to dust, in such a mess.
But Discipline, ah, Discipline
Could tidy, in a snap,
The biggest mess, and then, I’d guess,
Refute their stupid crap.
Just what our Energy is for
Is far from clear, right now.
We fail to use it, let it drain
Right out of us, somehow.
Our brains are busy searching,
While our bodies, stiff and still,
Are visiting the Underworld,
As if we’ve had our fill
Of Life. Heck, what is Life, these days,
But staring at a screen?
Such joy, complaining, commenting
And trolling, making scenes…
Our lives are played upon a stage
Of glowing glass and chips.
And never will we get them back.
No, not one little bit.
We fell for seances, and talked
To spirits of the past.
We once believed, the head revealed
With bumps, who’s first and last.
We gobbled up–so gullible–
A lie of purer races.
We owned them, even. Just like chattel:
Different, darker faces.
Mankind was sold a bill of goods
On such a massive scale:
What’s to prevent our falling
For the latest, tallest tale?
When Fantasy disperses
And it’s time for The Reveal,
Then who’s to say, who’ll look away,
Denying what is Real?
What could prevent our downfall,
Take the blindfold from our eyes?
Could simple tools, like Honesty
And Common Sense, surprise?
Could simple habits, simply done
Remove this blueish haze?
We die, for lack of Discipline,
Of Discipline, these days.
Copyright 2023 Andrea LeDew
For a snippet of a story about not wanting to take a stand, for fear of how it might look to others, see The Right Side of History. For a visceral reaction to the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision, overturning Roe vs. Wade, read Dystopia Today.