You’ll see a fireman saving a cat,
but also murders most foul.
The paradox of human nature.
One is a blessed affirmation of humanity;
The other is a chokehold on your heart.
Straddling that divide is enough
To give anyone a hernia.
And yet: that is us. Because:
Who sees genocide as an extension
Of crossing the street to avoid a black man?
Who sees the courage in reining in one’s own bias?
Who is authorized to stand up to a cop who is
Getting in the face of a black Everyman who is
Out walking, full of melancholy, wearing a hoodie
Because it’s cold outside?
Human nature is a big container:
A petty argument in the face of urgent danger;
Angry escalation over imagined sleights;
A glass of water for a despised neighbor;
Open contempt of the sin of skin color;
Hugs in times of despair;
Meals on wheels and handouts and smiles;
Being late for work because you helped
Someone change a tire in the rain.
Love is too specific to change much;
Politics is too greedy but changes everything.
There is no salvation for humanity,
The tropes of science fiction stories won’t save us
Or protect us from ourselves.
We are what we mythologize:
Angels and Devils and bureaucrats and heroes.
We eat alone,
And each other.
What you see, what hurts and saves,
Is all we’ve got.
A pride of lions lying with lambs:
That’s us in a nutshell.
No wonder gods promise stuff like that:
It’s easier than changing human nature.