Friday, July 8, 2016

My Heart Tells Me Something Different

Today I decided to post something I wrote in April 2010, at the request of my best friend, Dan Moen. I had it published in the Scarab Arts Annual Volume 3 in 2011, a book likely unknown outside the niche of Detroit art history; Dan encouraged me to share it with a much wider distribution, feeling it very timely now that we’re experiencing so much of what author Riane Eisler calls “dominator backlash,” the explosion of violence in response to more humanistic, egalitarian changes being made in our world—particularly the United States—at this time. 

Every time a policy that scores a great victory for human rights—The end of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s empowerment, and now equal-rights victories for people in same-sex relationships—a surge of violence against the newly-empowered people rises up, perpetrated by people who believe their values and rules should be upheld just because, in their minds, they must be true and right simply because they’ve been around for so long and until now no one has been successful at challenging them. 

I wrote this poem shortly after I began attending drum night hosted by the Suggs family, when I was so inspired by the people I connected with there—including Dan, and, of course, John and Christa Suggs. The other main source of inspiration is Riane Eisler’s book The Chalice and the Blade, which I posted about in August of 2011.

This poem reflects my spiritual perspective when I was a Bahá’í. I’ve thought of rewriting it in the near future, to see how I’d revise it as a Buddhist. In the meantime, I consider it an honor to be asked to share it with the world in its original form. Thank you, Dan. 

~ ~ ~


April 2010

Many things we’ve been taught to believe
by institutions we’re told don’t deceive.
         But my heart tells me something different.
We’re taught that if it’s not one it’s always the other
That if God’s not a woman He’s a man
That Creator couldn’t possibly be both or neither
         But my heart tells me something different.
We’re told “politically correct” is about making amends
But at the same time, enemies can never become friends
         But my heart tells me something different.
We’re told there’s only one way
one correct definition
one correct history, 
regarding the Creator
         But my heart tells me something different.
They say you can’t have both
It can’t be both
It just wouldn’t work to try and take turns
That every person the under present system gets what she or he earns
         But my heart tells me something different.
We’re told that because it’s “always” been done that way,
it’s worthy of respect for that alone
         But my heart tells me something different.
They say ailments can be isolated and treated as self-contained
That there’s a medical treatment for every kind of pain
That “enhancements” are life-improving rather than just vain
They say physical science is all that’s required for a healer to be adequately trained
         But my heart tells me something different.
They say if you can’t see it it’s not true
that old is never as good as new
and that much is always better than few
that one can’t be trained to see through another view 
         — But that can’t be true, because I just met you,
              and I’m guessing that your heart told you 
              something different.

I heard it said that love can be described but never defined
That to one word it can’t be confined
that it comes in many more forms than are usually comprehended or considered by the Western mind.
         This my heart told me to be true.
It doesn’t make sense to value life and war
at the same time
To believe in peace and play games based on crime
No more than it does to expect a tank to stop on a dime.
It doesn’t make sense for Creator to put so much work into making this world
just to be a miserable stopping point
and for death from it to be what’s most sublime
or to believe that where we’re at right now is the highest we can climb
         This my heart told me to be true.

When my heart told me something different,
I didn’t understand
why what I was being taught seemed so bent
and broken
and distorted
why though there were suspicions the truth was never reported
at least not to me
or to you
or to the teachers
or the preachers
or the pitiful creatures
that needed it most
to the guests
or to the hosts
and no one listened to the ghosts
who’ve been banished from the coasts
of our minds
lest hearing them inspire us to go find
the truth
that might help the youth
believe in something different
         than fighting, than hate
         than by violence a difference they’ll make
         than when you crush an enemy, victory is what remains
         than that construction comes from self-serving destruction
         and peace from war
Because if we keep telling them that, as a species we won’t get very far
Before our legacy and this earth
burn out like a dead star

So if the leaders don’t change their message
to reflect what happens in real life
which is that might does not ever make right
I pray that the hearts of children,
like mine did,
will tell them something different.

Image: "Opening the Heart Gates" by Karla Joy Huber, 2014; Prismacolor marker, Sharpie marker, white gel pen, metallic gel pen

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