The contentious tango between older generations and the young has been going on since the birth of Cain and Abel (parable characters used purely for symbolic reference). The only difference is the technology that is used to facilitate the discourse.
I’m posting this poem, Be Kind, by Charles Bukowski, for my beautiful millennial children because it is an exact replica of many of our conversations about the way millennials engage older people and their view of the world. It begins with my refrain and transitions to their honest, brave and resolute responses. This generation does not go along just to get along, which is what previous generations did and I truly admire that. I’m actually cheering them on even though the end goal is not completely clear. I just hope that their englightened rebelliousness leads to a kinder world where values are shifted to people rather than things so that we can correct the course we’re on which, for all intents and purposes, is continuing old and creating new unnecessary suffering and loss.
This poem exemplifies why I–love–poetry! The genre is a fully focused magnifier of absolutely everything.
we are always asked to understand the other person’s viewpoint no matter how out-dated foolish or obnoxious. one is asked to view their total error their life-waste with kindliness, especially if they are aged. but age is the total of our doing. they have aged badly because they have lived out of focus, they have refused to see. not their fault? whose fault? mine? I am asked to hide my viewpoint from them for fear of their fear. age is no crime but the shame of a deliberately wasted life among so many deliberately wasted lives is.
Some days we refuse to be thankful cause it won’t hold up its end of the bargain. The granted objects shrink themselves too small The hunger for what’s not grows and demands to be pursued. A Goliath of need. If only seemingly, it strikes the same. We set off into a reality filled with bitter dried fruit and sugar cane. The occasional dandelion begs to be wished upon. Pray, a miracle brings us back from the unforgiving edge. Into the ignored and humble, ten-fold, where there is plenty of plain and simple, but only in veil. We return thankful.
be guarded with your mind, a precious thing. Jumpstarted by connections constructed of nature and nurture. Ill-fitting garb for most. We make the best of it by looking away, by thrashing about, by cutting, dismembering, and reshaping, just for the honor of saying–this is me.
Silence holds the family in pieces. It’s the brutality of blessings that splinters all to avenues of frost and the unseemly snowy wood. When hush is broken by some tired soul, we melt and pour ourselves into convenient sewers. Thirsty for the ocean and thirsting for a new beginning.
I have a lot of poems that I love but this one poem is my life. I think it’s many people’s lives. Living is not always an easy thing to do, but if you hold on to the truth that you are, indeed, the master of your fate and the captain of your soul, you can weather all things.