The Better Part of U.S.
~John Patrick Starling
For the better part of
Two hundred fifty years,
And longer still…
There's been this struggle among us,
An epic test of wills that, like so many far off wars
That never will be won, but
By the setting of the Sun,
And the beginning of the day, anew.
Night is coming across our land
And again, it's time to choose a side, be
Declarative about your Constitution,
Who you are.
And where you stand.
Sixteen Twenty? Sixteen Nineteen?
Who knows nowadays which came first,
America's "original" - or aboriginal sin.
And where, and why did it all really begin?
A pure hearted pilgrimage gone bad
Pale faced, poxed and suffering refugees
Arrive "at last, at last…"
And still they die in tens of scores,
Widows, marry widowers, and
Swaddle the infant of yet another
Mother whose husband also died…
They buried her well outside the village,
Wrapped in blankets,
So the men who dug the grave
wouldn't touch the open sores.
And in Jamestown, there were already slaves.
"It's good country, new, and vast, and fertile -
If a little wild - and overgrown with savages,
But this land is our land, and the slaves will tame it for us
And the Indians are dying off as fast as we can kill them anyway
The only thing remaining is, what shall we name it?"
God called upon some of us,
But not the better of us
To hold his fellow man, woman and child in human bondage
Tethered to each other in iron chains, and separated
For financial gains, because…
"...we need a breeder, and that girl child - we don't need her.
Just another 'nigger' mouth to feed."
And so, they were sold, off
To separate plantations.
This is how oppressors build wealthy nations.
But, come Sunday go-to-church, sit and listen
To the new preacher use the Old Testament,
To justify, and testify that...
"In this great State, in which
We have finally found ourselves,
As in Biblical times…
'This' is the Will of God.
After the service the children are welcome to play together
As long as it's with their own kind."
The girls skip ropes, and their share hopes
And squeal, as the boys try push each other down
And then they clasp their hands together saying
"This is the church
And this is the steeple…"
But some of God's children,
Were not yet by then people.
Seventeen-hundred and seventy six
Some stood for, and some stood against
This "Word of God", but all argued His meaning,
Our reason, economies, and leanings
Throwing words like cannon balls.
Foreshadowing battles to come
They faced off together in ale houses
And hallowed halls.
Quaker abolitionist argued
From the highest rafters of the New Covenant…
Down to the simple, sturdy craftsmanship
Of the table, set upon the wooden floor.
They remained locked,
In rhetorical battle with their Southern counterparts
Like so many doors.
Chained together in the indelible ink of history,
Of common threat, and thusly common cause…
They reckoned themselves once and for all
To be "Free men", and therefore self-determined.
And so, it was settled.
So the Southern landed gentlemen, and
The poor white folk beneath of them, could maintain
Their property rights, and dignity, and
Standing in society, forever more.
"We are endowed by our Creator
To be of two races, of which we are the greater.
Our superiority is plain to see, and evidenced by Divine Providence…
For we are not the ones in chains."
Are we not?
I think that question still remains
To be answered.
Contempt for the suffering, and suffrage of others
is a long untreated cancer of the soul
From which, there honestly may be no cure.
Except to treat each other, and thus each our selves well,
With love and compassion
And the constitution to endure.
For if we seek the better part of us
There is salvation on God's golden shore, an end
To the wheel of Dharma that keeps us wanting
More, and more
We're a mixed and mottled nation,
Battered, bruised, and yes…
In some ways broken.
We are red, white, black and blue.
We are brown, and we are Asian.
And we are brave - and we've been "yellow" too.
Drafting an army, and napalming our way through
The jungles of South East Asia, just doing what we do.
While little white men talked big shit in Washington, while
Dodging what they all knew to be self-evident - and true.
That love is the answer.
And if you cannot see that...
I wish you only rest and peace,
You must be exhausted.
Contempt fatigues the soul, and
Hate is hard work...
Categorizing other humans,
In order to not be the least.
It requires so much effort
To hold each other down, while
So high above the - "other".
I'll admit that it takes strength, but
That's strength that you could use for all of us
A strength that truly makes you stronger.
Some would argue, and
I'm among those who would,
That love itself is what constitutes these United States
And holds U.S. together, when we begin to drift apart.
Falling far from the message of Christ
And the better Angels of our Creator, our
Declaration, Constitution, creed and code.
That we are bound together not by the chains of history
But by the moral imperative to shoulder each others load, well
Into the future.
If I could, I'd go back in time…
Not to right the wrongs of peoples past
But to you, when you were a just child,
I'd sit you on my lap and listen to you cry
And let you tell me who it was
That hurt you so bad that time - and why?
Or listen to the sorry stories you were told,
Passed down to you like Gospel gold from your family tree
From which you're dead certain your vindication will someday be hung.
A notch above the big limb where them coloreds used to be strung.
But child, that tree is gone to ground now, and
Those old stories are getting old, but
I'd listen thoughtfully
To the victim stories you were told.
And maybe we'd discover then,
that "he" or "she" or "they" or "them"…
All those people that have hurt you,
They've all been hurt by someone too,
They hurt just like me, and
They hurt just like you.
And no it isn't fair what happened, that
Dimmed the better part of you, and
Dulls the better part of U.S. - but that's over now
And its time to choose, in which "God We Trust".
You my lost and lonely child have this
Golden chance for freedom
That comes with each morning Sun
Arriving as the simple Truth
For you to reject, or behold.
Before you get too old
And set in your ways.
Before the end of days,
Before the darkness
Settles in your ageless soul.
Breathe the past in deeply
Exhale… and let it go.
Let it all go,
And start anew
Red, and yellow people too.
Take a good honest breath, and
Let it go into the wind.
Into the trees, and the rivers - and
Back to the wandering seas.
Back from whence we came,
Be it across the Middle Passage,
The Northern Atlantic,
Or the Bearing Strait.
Back before we started keeping score,
With colored spray, or finger paints
On the sides of the walls we've built between us.
And long before that… our fire-lit caves.
We were all slaves.
I'd travel with you, if I could,
And intercept your childhood
Shine a better light, and lend my voice
Not of reason, fact or faith
But, to help you make better choice
In that moment when you so unwittingly resigned
Yourself to trading love for hate.
I'd hold you gently, and redirect you,
Warning sternly of your fate
And how it so weakens U.S.
One and all…
And will someday consume the best of you.
But not the better of U.S. all.
~John Patrick Starling