False Duality

Ice Twin, taken November 15, 2018

It’s not natural to us,
not our nature,
to embrace duality,
not each other.
It’s manufactured
for their profit,
like their power,
like the system,
inflating as we buy in.

When we sanction
this detachment,
choosing Ideology,
the machinations
trojan horse,
wreaking havoc
from within.

The chasm
between our hearts
expands unconstrained.
While we suffer
broken lives and
broken bonds,
the officialdom’s
interests served
by our misplaced

This division,
lined with border walls
and severed ties,
mirrors back
our worst projections.
We get caught up,
lose ourselves,
lose each other
to the machinery
for whose gain?

We aren’t meant to cling
to separations,
grasping empty
metallic promises
churned out
from the engine
of the status quo.

We’re meant to live in seasons—
Sowing and growing
Renewing and letting go—
the living things we are.

Neither manufactured division nor
false unity will save us.
Only clear seeing
of complexity,
of the need to repair harm,
of the unsustainability of
this us vs. them,
all or nothing,

We are too much, too many
to be flattened into two.


I would not allow myself hope.
Not after before.
But I did think I would feel—
perhaps not joy—
but relief, reprieve
if it turned out this way.

But I don’t feel any of that.

All I can feel is grief.
An unrelenting ache.
Awash in grief.

I’d thought that after knowing,
after experiencing
the reality of the last four years,
more hearts would change

and they might not choose him.
So many people chose him.
Not the majority, but too many.

Even though
I haven’t believed
for a very long time that America
(at least the United States part)
was ever truly great,
I wanted to believe
the people saying it was
would at least make a
play for fairness
and upholding her institutions.

But too many turn blind eye
after blind eye,
ignoring harm and corruption,
lies and death.

Dismissing pain
and alarms
like a parent
when their child cried and
said she did not want to
“play” with her abuser,
only to be sent back
again and again

because listening,
validating her fears,
keeping her safe,
might have made them look bad.

Or not in control.

And there are people who fear loss of control
more than they love their daughters.
People who fear loss of power
more than they love their neighbors.

There are people
who will double-down on an idol they worship
while convincing themselves
they are worshiping the God of love.

And I do not know
how to bridge the chasm
between my heart and theirs.
I’m staying curious about possibilities,
but I do not yet know.


Photo of a magnet based on artist and activist Hank Willis Thomas’ work ‘Love Over Rules’

By rule we
inherit rules
or acquire
as price of inclusion.

Learn to honor
and obey,
control and be controlled

We’re told the rules are always right,
must be enforced by might
and switches,
shame and fear,
violence and captivity.

We’re not to ask
if rules are fair,
applied equitably,
do more harm
than good.

Follow unquestioningly
follow incessantly
or chaos will rule the days.

Rules rule
every action

fracturing us from one another

until the blinders fall
and we can’t unsee
the poisoned roots
of rules instead of care.

Rules oppress, constrict,
limiting what could be.

Love is spacious,
bathed in possibility.

Rules are ends
justifying means.

Love is wholeness,
ends and means.