• And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is. Terry Pratchett
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Upon an Earnest Thinkpiece

I read an earnest thinkpiece
Well-meaning, I am sure.

And it said:
We leftists have the privilege
To make our choice to vote
On principle
Not survival
It talked of fishing regulations
And other policy positions
Of livelihoods lost
And nothing gained

And I read it and marveled
At what it said about
The people the author didn’t know
Or whose lives
He didn’t notice.

“We have to talk to these people”, he said
“To understand where they are coming from.”
He said “We in the cities don’t know”.

And that means
He knows nobody
Who came from there
And left, and said
“It was going to kill me.”
Or if he does
He never heard those stories.
And isn’t that peculiar?

Maybe he thought they were
Metaphors
A black man dragged behind a truck
Or shot in the back, a gun planted;
A gay man beaten, left for dead;
A trans woman bludgeoned;
The disappearance of Native women,
Their kin water-blasted in the icy cold;
Their death as a symbol
Of some spiritual ennui
That real people suffer.

He knows nobody who said,
“This medicine is what stands between me and death”.
He knows nobody who said,
“What will happen to my family?”
“My marriage?”
He knows nobody who said,
“Will I be safe on the streets tomorrow?”
Who walks in the world with hair covered,
Who answers to Muhammad
Or Jesus.

“This is a matter of principle for us,
Not survival,” he said,
Because even if a job is hard to find
It is easier to find
Than a life
And we know who gets one of those
And who does not.

He doesn’t know anyone
To memorialise
Who said, “I’m not going to survive
The next four years
So I might as well beat the rush
At the pearly gates”.

He must imagine
These original sins
Slavery
Genocide
Are things in the past
Not a current-day concern
That there is nobody alive
Who was interned in a camp
Not here
We don’t do such things:
Oh my.

Never mind the swastikas
And the churches burning
People scrambling to get
A passport
While they still can find one
In their real name:
The fishing regulations,
Those matter.

He never wondered
Why those cities
Those blue cities
Are full of the people
We love to hate
Huddled together
For warmth.

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