Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Winning Argument

It came as a complete surprise.
If humans agreed on one thing,
It was that humans disagreed.

Even devout missionaries
Of the fiercest win-the-world faiths
Knew they wouldn’t win every soul.

Even revolutionaries
Fighting for a better future
Were always quarreling themselves.

It was part of being human—
To be pretty sure you were right,
Hold your ground, but not expect much.

How many great rhetoricians
Flipped whole enraged crowds with purely
The dazzle of an argument?

But when it all came to an end,
It came as if there’d never been
Any debating beforehand.

The argument itself is lost
To us, unfortunately, since
It succeeded too completely.

The whole complicated species
Began shutting down its systems,
Wars, and then its machinery,

While individuals bravely
Went about shutting down themselves,
Driving their kind to extinction

As swiftly and efficiently
As they had passenger pigeons.
We’ll never know what convinced them.

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