Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Insufficient Antidote

Humans being cruel to humans,
Humans baffled by how humans
Can be cruel as that to humans,

Not just vicious, predatory,
But cruel to the point of torture.
Humans protest. Humans invoke

Kindness in the final resort,
Once they’ve seen how invoking God
Can exacerbate cruelty,

One they’ve seen solidarity,
And principle, and liberty
All exacerbate cruelty.

Kindness. Kindness risks cruelty
To the kind, but kindness is calm,
In itself, not a catalyst,

Not checking rules or reasons first,
Not gaming out consequences.
And humans do it. Humans can.

You’ve seen it. Someone helps someone
Before checking whose side they’re on.
Before checking their moral state.

It’s most often spontaneous
And fleeting, but some are more prone
To being kind much of the time,

Their first, not their final resort.
It’s almost always intimate,
Small, and, unlike its opposite,

Cruelty, rarely organized,
Systematized. Systematized
Kindness warps as rules get settled.

Hope leaps a little when someone
Invokes kindness, writes that kindness
Is what divides the night from day,

But you know it doesn’t scale well.
Kindness is to calm as saffron
Is to spice—real, useful, and rare.

But what else in humans is there,
Samaritan, innate to you,
To answer for your cruelties?

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