Intermediate Ethics

Since November, I've been wondering about the fate of my credibility as a parent and as an instructor. 

In a country where "alternative facts" are brazenly defined and used in conversations about America's identity and safety, how do I show students that sound, persuasive arguments are supported by truth, and they must discover truth rather than fabricate a more convenient "alternative"? How do I keep believing this myself? Sometimes it seems like humanity is doubting science and the world it lives in more than ever.

And while I'm at it, as a citizen affected by this administration that hurts and threatens people without restraint, how do I teach my daughter that she cannot hurt people to make herself feel better?

I need to keep reading.

I've been playing with formal verse more, since the end of last year, finding the restrictions more like writing companions than nuisances. A pantoum here, a pantoum there. Sometimes a sestina. I am still telling all the writers who will listen to me to write piles and piles and piles of shit, to compost, to keep an eye open for good blooms. Do not write for praise. Write whenever you can, however much you can. Keep communicating. 

And I'm seeing students at UWT come together just a bit more than they did last year, around writing, forming groups and meeting to talk about what they've read. I'm also seeing my daughter stop and think before hitting her friends on the head with a plastic shovel.

= progress, I think. Here's a poem for the month ahead, which is meant to celebrate the power of poetry.

Intermediate Ethics

The worst of it: I tell my daughter
there are consequences
for those who hurt others.
It is 2017. We are Americans.

There are consequences
for those who fabricate truth,
even in 2017, even in America.
Science is the new poetry,

and those who fabricate truth
are the new advisors.
Scientists are the new poets,
obsessed with the wounded.

The new advisors
wish we’d fall asleep already,
stop singing to the wounded
and build a more pleasant truth.

There are consequences
for the worst of it: I tell my daughter
it is 2017, we are Americans,

and we continue to hurt others.


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