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North American Dreaming: Shelf Of Lost Causes

William Burkholder's poem is an acknowledgment that discovering the truth about ourselves is no easy task.

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There are those who at one time or another have placed me on the shelf of lost causes.

Those, who have not been able to agree with the path that I had taken,

It does not prove them wrong, nor does it prove them right.

It is more in the fact with regard to my growth as a human being, as a mere man.

We have all utilized that dusty shelve; gazing with disdain and disapproval on people and

things that do not sit right with us.

It is in our make up to be judge and jury; more so it seems when the facts elude us.

Facts have little to do with opinion; facts have no place in a preconceived notion of

right and wrong. A moralistic sentence is the derivative of these judgments.

And upon these contemplations, I have viewed myself as one of these perpetrators.

I have concluded that my self righteous actions have been just as heinous as those that

have exercised their judgments' upon me and placed me on that shelf.

One might ask however, "Do these moments, these circumstances allow us (upon reflection)

to reassess our positions, our motives? Is it the overall result that counts more than the

initial placing? I for one more than anything, realize the past and have taken myself to

task to understand and attempt to analyze my reasoning (at the time) and my thought

processes that led me to such decisions. "Decisions" In those moments when one stumbles

into that abyss of misconstruction it can hardly be categorized as a decision.

In the terms of this it can readily be defined as a choice, and according to those

relegators; a poor choice/choices. The ease with which we condemn one another to surrender

is not only heinous in and of itself; but it speaks to the deeper question, the ability of

each and every one of us to deny the common flesh and blood of ourselves. I included am

guilty of this. You, we are guilty of this. The ease with which we condemn one another

simply by the fact of our misunderstanding and insensitivity, speaks volumes about us in

terms of a people. We are quick to act, expedient in our resolve to remove the suspected

malady that invades our sense of right and wrong. It is a term of indifference that each

of us speak loudly. For in our minds we are just in our convictions, for our convictions

are who we are. But really, who are we?

You see it in many places and for this, one need not look far,

In the urban expanses, we see it in the ghettos, where we have abdicated our

compassion's and left the (less fortunate) to fend for themselves. "Less fortunate" is a

rich man's term, it escalates him to a believed seat of power, one of perceived control.

The rich man's self soothing rhetoric allows him to brush the poor man off without a care.

So then, I am at that point of a decision. Will I place these perpetrators upon that shelf

of lost causes? I ache for the true compassion that each of us are meant to have and display.

While I sit here and tap out these lines, I know that deep down inside, I am no better; I

am just as weak as the rest of the world. I would consider a physical rebirth if it meant

that I could acknowledge this within myself right off. It is but a poet's naive dream, the

disassembling of this shelf. But it is a dream worth recognizing at least in the form of

concept and philosophical possability. I am condemned to be a man, filled with these

preconceptions of myself, of you, of they and them. It is not an attribute, far be it. I

pray for the continued understanding and insight to at least convey these paltry ramblings

to my brothers and sisters with the hopes that at least a voice which has recognized that

something is amiss with us in these terms. These shelves; sagging under the loads of self-

righteous behaviors, it is sure to fall, and tumble at our feet, these cascading walls of

indifference and unfounded contempt.

Who is mistaken, who is correct given the tapestry of this life and its many colors it is

by far, not an easy undertaking to discover the truth about ourselves as a whole.


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