(I posted an early version of “Macho” to a website, “Poets against the War” prior to the 2003 initiation of the U.S.-led coalition’s war in Iraq. This prosier edition continues to be updated in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook and 2016 Orlando mass shootings and various other brutalities near and far. –Jinny Batterson)
To Our Macho Valentines —by Jinny Batterson
This is going to sound preachy, and it’s important, so please listen: Our over-emphasis on competition, violence, vengeance and warfare to shape our world has gotten seriously out of hand. It needs to be scaled back.
When a disturbed young man sprays death on 20 first-graders with an assault rifle, or a different young man prey to extremist rhetoric expresses himself by shooting up a night club, or an aging business mogul blusters and insults his way to high political office, we need to say “Enough!”
Long ago, marauding bands armed with the best available clubs and spears made sense. Settlements were sparse, beasts were huge, weather was harsh. Threats were plentiful “out there.” Now more of us live in cities than in caves. Notions of protection and habits of fear have yet to catch up with our changed circumstances.
Human violence is all too prevalent–world wars, holocausts, genocides, civil wars, mass rapes, terrorism, along with more intimate horrors. We can make up euphemisms like“collateral damage” to mask the results, but it doesn’t help. Our knowledge of the damage we can inflict on each other still sticks in our throats.
So for a few moments, please drop your swagger, your snigger, your armor, your weapons, and come join our quiet circle. Don’t bring presents–no flowers, no chocolates, no well-intentioned but futile promises to keep us safe. Just sit. No words or gestures. Open your senses. Notice life’s interconnections.
Soon we’ll finish. Then you can get back to media sports coverage. But first we’ll say our piece plainly: though we may have admired your youthful shows of physical or mental prowess, we won’t stop loving you when injury, illness, or old age waylays you.
Actually, when you’re not too loud, we love you most of all when you lie snoring peacefully beside us, human and vulnerable, just as we are.
With deepest affection, Your Partners