All of our laws are creating messes worse than whatever the laws were first written to improve. Our compilation of welfare law, for example, written to help victims of circumstance, has created an enormous subpopulation of such victims, which it calls clients, and a massive bureaucracy to maintain the client population in a state of perpetually mounting degradation and isolation.
Similarly, our body of state security law stymies the application of wisdom to the problems of the nation and the world and stifles rational public discourse about what those problems are and how we should be working them out; our national security apparatus, empowered by law, has worked consistently for the past fifty years to destabilize and corrupt the whole world order and has contributed immeasurably to the conditions that now make our survival as a civilization and even as a species less secure than it has ever been. Our drug law created crack and ecstasy and epidemics of alcoholism and cancer, and it now stimulates the spread of AIDS. Our education law, with all the instruments it has created and all the regulations it has propounded and all of the money it spends, makes our whole society stupider each year.
The simple truth, it seems to me, is that our lawmakers are all fools or worse; most of them are venal and corrupt, and the few who may not be may still be cowardly or stupid or both. I don't think that any one of them knows what's happening. The laws that our politicians make are mostly bad laws, and we'd be better off without them all -- the politicians and their laws.
What we put in their place is clear enough in outline. It has to be some sort of community, and everybody in it has to take a full measure of responsibility. I don't know if we can do that, and I don't know how we will do it. I believe we have to try, and that we can start by talking to one another about how we might govern ourselves once we get the politicians off our backs.
There are some heavy questions pending. How can we make sure that our common wealth, the harvest of our productivity and our joint inheritance, is equitably shared? How are we going to get it back from the fat cats, and how can we avert a future terrified by greed? How will we learn to work intelligently and effectively together so that we can get big tasks done and nobody gets burned out or bummed out with the effort? What will it take for each of us to let go of anger, so that we can finally address, together, the questions of justice and equity?
From decades of talking to people in bars and boardrooms and airplane seats and neighbors' porches, I have become persuaded that there is a nobility in every tested soul, even those who are messing up the test in this life most sadly and painfully. Everyone I've ever met, speaking from the heart, speaks revealing poetry.
The following lines are an offering to everyone I've ever met. There's something in here for everyone.
The first 108 lines are stickers. I encourage you to use them to disempower politicians and encourage community. Use them to puncture dogma and encourage discussion. Find a line that appeals or seems appropriate to the day, and paste it on your bumper, or on the cover of your notebook, or on the bathroom mirror or the icebox door. Or use the stickers to add commentary to political billboards and street posters. Talk about the ideas that the lines evoke; talk to one another about the possibilities.
The final seven lines are a tee shirt. Accept it as a simple koan. I hope that it fits and looks good on you.
If anyone sees an opportunity to make money from this work in any way, go for it; make as much as you can, and if you make more than you need, spread the excess around. Try to keep as much of it as you can out of the hands of the politicians.
If you publish these words in any form -- as bumper stickers or tee shirts or broadsides, please work to make the result attractive; remember that whatever else a line might be, it is quoted from a poem and should present itself with the grace and generosity that is the province of poetry. Any line of a poem, spoken or displayed invitingly in any involving context, must have a holographic impact on anyone who hears and sees.
In any case, do what you will.
Help one another.
Enough advice. To honor the genre that evoked it, this work should be anonymous, but it is so obviously contrived that "Anonymous" becomes a pseudonym. I prefer a different pseudonym, and I will sign LOS for a citizen name.
On to bumper stickers
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