July 20th, 2024

We can all do better

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on July 26, 2017.

“Pour the unhappiness out from your too bitter heart, which grieving will not sweeten,” writes American poet Wallace Stevens. “Poison grows in this dark. It is in the water of tears. Its black blooms rise.”

It seems much of society is in a very angry place right now. People are angry about politics. People are angry about culture, society, religion and whatever else they feel they have to feel angry about. Anger can be an expression of passion which leads to social activation and change, but too often people are foregoing social activation in favour of mean-spirited trolling, ridicule and insult to those who believe differently from them.

This kind of discourse is neither constructive nor in any way represents true debate. In the long run, it is a poisonous bloom, as Stevens terms it, rising from the lakes of madness, paranoia and fear.

“If only this fear would leave me, I could dream of Crickley Hill: And a hundred thousand thoughts of home would visit my thoughts in sleep. But here the peace is shattered all day by the devil’s will, and the guns bark night-long to spoil the velvet silence deep.” (“De Profundis,” Ivor Gurney)

This is a sentiment many of us can agree with. We need more room for silence in our public discourse and debate. Instead firing off with both barrels in a moment of aggrieved outrage, sit back, take a deep breath, push through the anger, and say what is really in your heart. Mockery and misguided outrage are the meaningless sounds of crows squabbling over a piece of mouldy bread in an empty parking lot. There is no wisdom in it, and its aim is utterly meaningless.

“Live with me on Earth among red berries and the bluebirds; and leafy young twigs whispering within such little spaces, between such floors of green, such figures in the clouds, that two of us could fill our lives with delicate wanting.” (Milton Acorn).

This world, while filled to the brim with its full measure of despair, has so much beauty and joy within it. We can choose to discard these wonders and taste only of the bitter ashes and poisonous blooms. Or we can choose to acknowledge the pain of things without succumbing to cruelty and despair.

Life is tough enough already without adding to its weight by intentionally seeking out opportunities to insult or hurt others. We all know we can do better; so let’s get on with it.

(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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