Disillusion

For the dverse prompt. I used to be an activist, defender of poor, minorities, worker’s rights, women’s rights, but the cacophony has grown too loud, too insincere, too many causes spitting on the cause in the next street.

I will not pick a cause and howl injustice
while abusing those who disagree,
I will not defend a man just because he is black
if he treats his wife like a punchbag,
or a woman just because she is a woman
if she holds down her daughter
to take the excision knife,
or a kid just because he’s had few chances,
if he murders a woman because she’s a Jew.

I will not make a pecking order
of grievances for human kind;
let them learn that respect for each is the only way.

I will defend the voiceless,
the trees, the birds, the slaughterhouse meat,
the homeless of the jungles,
the tuskless elephants, bulls bleeding in the arena,
badger and fox cubs thrown to hounds,
the victims of our barbarity,

and I’ll tell you why:

because they know respect and loyalty
and their form of love, courage, and generosity.
They know no cruelty, no genocide,
no slavery or misogyny or the refinements of torture.
I will speak for those who have no guilt,
for those who pay the price of our inhumanity.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

76 thoughts on “Disillusion”

  1. This is so powerful and beautiful. I have tears in my eyes, especially with the final stanza but also reading about what happens too often, domestic violence and murder. As I said to Grace, this is as well a poem that brings up how we have to speak for those who don’t have those voices to. But, as you say, it’s important to protect and defend always what is right and moral, and not just because of skin color or gender. So many powerful points you bring up in this poem. It’s amazing.

    Thank you for writing your beautiful and strong words. ❤ ❤

    1. I’m glad you don’t find it offensive. I’ve just got so tired of firstly the way human beings treat one another, which is sickening, but also of the way we get the knives out for one cause and stick them in the opposition, as if all of group A is saintly and all of group B deserves to be exterminated. You can be a poor black sadistic bastard just as you can be a rich white sadistic bastard. We live in a state of law and we need laws to protect and a body to enforce the laws. We don’t need vigilantes.
      I hate cruelty and I hate cruel people. Period.

    1. Thanks Kim. They’re no particularly popular sentiments and many of the one cause protestors would call me fascist—it’s the new insult word for everyone you disagree with—but I don’t give a flying feck.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. I can only do my small part to be humble and kind, be environmentallty conscious, generate positivity and love for my fellow man. If everyone did that, what a different world it would be,.

  3. This is so powerful! Especially like; “I will not make a pecking order of grievances for human kind; let them learn that respect for each is the only way.”

      1. I skipped this “protest” prompt for the very reason that I didn’t know who I would offend and what manner of social crime I would be judged as committing. Many have retreated into this silence. Our society is tearing apart at the seams. It’s time we were mending, neighbor to neighbor, not destroying all the good that holds us together.

      2. That is one of the big problems with the ‘woke’ and the ‘blame’ and the ‘cancell’ cultures. The worst crime you can commit is to offend someone, and people are ‘offended’ if you express a view different to their own. I hate it.

    1. Basically people protest over issues because it serves a purpose and it isn’t always altruistic. We’re getting very close to trial by social media and mob rule. It’s not protest it’s bulldozing with no regard for the possibility of using due process of law.
      I leave BLM out of it because that is a shameful, purely US problem with no equivalent in Europe (contrary to what some agitators with their own personal agenda would have us believe) and it ought to have been settled decades ago.

      1. So do I. It’s hard to see how. There are so many people with justified grievances that it’s easy for governments to play one lot off against the other and do nothing for the bigger picture. The people protesting over the closure of a dangerously obsolete nuclear power station because they’ll lose their jobs are thinking of their livelihoods not the good of the planet. But can you blame them?

      2. That’s definitely a difficult situation to be in. This is why, in the states, congresswomen like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were advocating for the Green New Deal. This would provide former nuclear employees, as the ones aforementioned, to transition to jobs in the renewable sector. But special interest monies get in the way

      3. That’s a universal problem. The fact that it means lost jobs doesn’t cut much ice with the owners but they want to make sure their investment keeps raking in the money.

      4. Yes, you’re right. I think of the trans protests, anti JK Rowling outbursts in particular. The noise of a tiny minority seem to have hijacked and shouted down the protests against violence to women and what used to be considered women’s rights. Some people have to learn to see their own demands in context.

      5. I agree. I’m still struggling to understand what JK Rowling said wrong. The outrage is from a minority. But the fact that it’s able to garner such attention, I find disturbing.

      6. Me too, and it is disturbing, the old talking things into existence stunt that seems to work so well. A few years ago it would never have entered anybody’s head to ask a kid of nine did he/she feel like a girl or a boy. Now it’s common practice. How to screw up an entire generation in one easy lesson…

  4. Tiny fists indeed, but stentorian poetics. Fake, Fascist, Fraud–these epithets are simple projection. I admire your ferocity and pride in not bending to the Norm, being an independent thinker.

  5. I am tired myself but I continue to listen and learn and act with more empathy. Your voice powerful, defending the vulnerable in our society yet teaching others of respect and empathy. This part just gives me goose bumps:

    I will defend the voiceless,
    the trees, the birds, the slaughterhouse meat,
    the homeless of the jungles,
    the tuskless elephants, bulls bleeding in the arena,
    badger and fox cubs thrown to hounds,
    the victims of our barbarity,

    I wonder if you can read this out loud. I think it will be an amazing performance Jane.

    1. Thank you, Grace. I feel as though I’m sailing against the wind often. The people I know who think the same way are also despairing. I hate the way feminism has gone, and I hate the trial by social media that goes in with the biggest, most brazen lies given the most credence. The world is burning, we’re all on a slippery slope and all some people can bray about is the appalling injustice of ‘fascist’ women trying to keep biological men out of women’s rest rooms.

      I don’t do anything in public, reading or appearing. I don’t have enough self-confidence and my voice isn’t the one I hear in my head. I should have gone to drama class rather than piano.

    1. Thanks Peter. I hate all this baying for blood from people who are very selective about their interpretation of the words ‘justice’ and ‘equality’. Equality for fellow men, and the devil take the women, equality for people of colour, but not for Orientals. And all the time, those who have no reason to ever find themselves at the pointy end, the ones with the yachts and the banks in their pockets are laughing up their sleeves.
      Nobody is above reproach and I’ve lost patience with most social movements.

  6. Too many purity tests and none of us pure. You are right that saving our planet is the most important thing, and all our other problems really come from our lack of caretaking and mutual respect.

    1. You’d think it was easy. To look every individual in the eyes and see just a human being, who can be good, bad, indifferent, funny, pathetic or downright obnoxious. We ought to be able to criticise individual behaviour without their ‘community’ closing ranks. There shouldn’t be ‘communities’ that take precedence over the fact of being a human being with the same obligations, responsibilities as well as rights as all the others.

  7. Well said, Jane!
    ‘I will not make a pecking order
    of grievances for human kind;
    let them learn that respect for each is the only way.’
    You’re absolutely right – no point protesting for the rights of those who breach the rights of others. And giving a voice to the voiceless is an honourable pursuit. We could all do with having a lot more respect for all the beings with which we share this earth.

    1. Thanks Ingrid. I always think of my mother who was a Labour Party activist and used to go round canvassing at election times. There were a lot of Pakistani immigrants in our area and the men were all unionised and keen to go to Labour Party meetings. The womenfolk never left the house except accompanied by the men to carry the shopping. My mum used to ask, “And Mrs Patel?” And Mr Patel would laugh and smile and explain that Mrs Patel couldn’t speak English and she had the children to look after and the housework to do, and he wouldn’t want her mixing with people outside the house anyway.
      Equality at that time, in that community meant equality between men. It still does for a lot of men. I’m tired of all the double standards.

    1. I don’t know how we get there. Treat one another honestly is about all we can do at an individual level. Speak up for people who need it, and not be browbeaten into taking a side because you’d be a ‘fascist’ not to.

    1. We’ve always murdered one another but I think we’re only just realising that the planet is collateral damage. The awful thing is, most of us don’t care. You’ll get more people out on the streets protesting about a hike in the price of petrol than you will to stop the extermination of the country’s wildlife.

    1. I’m not certain it’s something that we’ve lost. People have always been cruel, heartless and exploitative. But the machine is out of control, too many of us shouting about our individual rights while the planet and the voiceless burn.

  8. Jane, bravo! I have spent much of my past quarter century in love with the natural world — especially my beloved PacNW. I used to hike deep into the wilderness here to feel part of the real world. Nothing humans have created, or ever will create, is as breathtaking and awe inspiring as the view of the Pacific Ocean reaching to infinity, over the sunset on the horizon, while standing at the edge of a forest-covered coastal cliff face, as the mighty breakers surge and crash at the bouldered base 1,000 feet below — and an osprey calls overhead, while it swoops and glides on the thermals and breezes that waft and rise up the sheer rock face. It breaks my heart that, because of my health, I will never have that experience of beauty and freedom again in my life. But what truly brings s lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes, is that the adult humans aboard with me here on spaceship earth, are so mindless and greedy, that this magnificence I described here, and so much more of the incredible natural world, may be hopelessly defiled and desecrated before my grandson ever has the chance to experience it!

    1. We’re destroying everything, from the rainforests and oceans down to the least little hedgerow between fields. It’s all going, ploughed under, burned or exploited in one way or another. The only thing that will stop it is if the leaders who deny there’s a problem (while knowing full well that there is a massive problem) fear for their own little persons, that they personally will suffocate, burn or drown before they have died a natural death of (undeserved) old age in their beds.

    1. It’s what we should strive for, but it’s hard to self-assess. Are we defending a cause or just self-interest? Is it defending a cause because is personal commitment or behaving as a member of a ‘group’, ‘community’ and attacking another ‘group’? We have to do a lot of soul searching before going out and burning our neighbour’s car…

      1. Absolutely, and for me, am I prepared to voted against my self-interest for the sake of the wider community? Big stuff for today’s narrow views.

      2. I think if you’re in the happy position of being able to take a cut to help others out, it helps in the decision-making. I see a lot of people applauding Trump for hanging onto his millions and paying no taxes when ordinary people have no choice but to pay. It’s legal, they say, he has a good accountant, why shouldn’t he keep all his hard-earned cash? Hard to stomach.

      3. It’s so sad that so many people believe that grabbing is an admirable occupation. If you can wriggle through a legal loophole that makes it perfectly okay. I’d take that reasoning from criminals, but not from someone who is supposed to be exemplary, a head of state.

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