Weighing Worth

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020

… the measure you mete out
will be the measure meted back.

Luke 6:38

With all the possibilities before us, how did we end up here?

Growing up during the dying days
of an industrial era,
in a landscape pockmarked by pits and slag heaps,

my factory-fodder family
wondered where all “the Works” went
that abandoned generations to doleful joblessness,

where depression premised the existential,
working-class conundrum:
“If to work therefore I am, then how am I to be unemployed?”

In time, electronic technologies,
mass-produced by more distant family members
in sprawling shantytowns,

promised to revolutionize
life and livelihoods
with information-driven commodity.

Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration

T. S. Eliot

All the while, here and abroad,
our dear home, reduced to raw material,
is ravaged, exploited, capitalized.

Through manufacture and mechanization,
we laud this persistent “progress,”
as the measure of meaning and worth.

While outputs and products increase,
suburbs spread where forest and fen are demolished,
and all hail destruction as “development.”

As for humankind, conveniently dubbed “consumer,”
the only word we need implore
is “more.”

There is no vaccine against climate change.

John Ingham

At what price this senseless squander,
who must pay the cost;
that burdens children’s children with life already lost?

Swamped by information,
wisdom out of view,
our scales all imbalanced, our measurements askew.

Facing such distortion—
lives no longer weigh the same—
some are offered privilege, others only pain.

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

Maya Angelou

Our green and growing globe
now fevered, seeks to stem
the chronic contagion of predatory greed.

Though well-warned and overly-informed,
still we refuse to weigh this consequential truth:
whatsoever we do unto Creation, we do unto ourselves.

How then to proceed?
What path to redemption,
where leadership, adrift in self-importance,

fixates on heavenly glories,
as this good and earthy garden
is quickly turned to hell?

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.

Thich Nhat Hahn

Wisdom instructs
that we cannot change the past;
nonetheless, we must learn from it

Nor can we alter a future
yet to exist.
But, with radical reorientations, we can shape it.

In truth, we may not be able
to swiftly reverse the present trajectory,
but we can be transformed

by waking up to ponder and wonder:
how on earth does faith matter,
if Life and lives, sorely abused, do not?

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

Maya Angelou

Let us en-courage the fresh-hearted
to dream their dreams and re-envision
a world worthy of the sacrament all of us embody.

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot


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