Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Unpardonable Sin of the World

Please, please may all 
Kind gods and buddhas,
Good prophets and true 
Moral sages forgive me 
If I've got this wrong, but

Humans are a peculiar social species,
A peculiarly social species.
We're a bit like wolves, a bit
Like ants, a bit like chimpanzees.

We are not fixed into our roles,
But we are fixed into having roles
And rules to orchestrate them.

As cultures of peoples, thus, we are well 
Adapted to the whole shebang of climates,
Generalists who can be as particular as you please,

But as individual organisms we are wired
To one and only one true, 
Human-specific ecosystem: 
Other people. Which is, I beg

To plead, perhaps 
As well the reason why
I have never yet encountered
A spiritual point of view
That didn't advise aligning
Oneself with the nonhuman
Universe as if it were
An important human
Personage or population.

We teach each other that the keys
To right living, even
Salvation and enlightenment,
Consist of proper attitudes
Toward the world, affects we believe
Effective, as though the world were all one 
Extension of our fireside fellows
And village elders in concentric circles.

Sometimes we urge
Each other to humility
Toward that enormity not us,
As if it could feel the need
To put us in our place.
Other times we advocate
Gratitude, as if cultivating
Friendship with a superior.
Affection, gift-giving, loyalty, respect,
Calm, trust, all the social 

Virtues are the solutions
We try out on the rocky 
Shores and distant stars,
Having been so far
Successful at making our own
Species our principal
Environment, we can't
Stop ourselves from treating
All things as our own species.

Old news, I know, and plenty
Of skillful apologists to handle it.
What's amazing is not that we do it,
Not that we know, more or less,
That it's a bogus approach, that
God would have to be too big
To get hurt feelings, that the loving
Oneness at the core of all must
Also be greater than social emotions
As we can construe them, forcing
Us to build our holy opinions
Into nests of paradoxes 
For which we blame language
And our own poor social skills--
Too selfish, too hateful, too
Egotistical we say we are. No,

What's amazing is that we can
Be horrified by the notion
That the nonhuman universe
Is simply not human, not social,
When here we are convinced
An uncaring world must be unkind.

Has it occurred to no prophet
Yet that it's a mercy
Not every thing 
Is us, is like us, 
Nor likes, nor dislikes us?

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