By Richard Kline, a Seattle-based polymath and poet
1 Whispers 3 Summering 10
The idea of America is . . . tremendous. Few as good; fewer better. Freedom. Equality. The room to strive. Justice in equal measure. Live and let live, and do harm to none. In our day, it is the execution that is wanting; which effort is slack miserable, misaimed, selfish, deranged. A failure to live up to our best and a purveyance of all the worst we have to offer.
And the worst part in this execration of the ideals which we claim to profess, and at times have embodied in part and whole, is that it is we who fail ourselves. Our delusion, our venality, our lies, forced on us by nothing and no one else. No foreign master or occupation, though we bring such to others thoughtless. No leaden obligation to another folk or failed cause which drags us down. No shortage of wealth, of resource, of enterprise, of education, of alternative. No; unforced we err, we cringe, we accuse falsely, we embrace the worse and leave the best undone; double failure, redoubled down: of ourselves and all around. We are in a Hell of our own devise, some few think it Heaven; some few who profit midst the misery of others, all the rest . . . .
On the 4th day of July, I stood on a high place and watched explosions in the sky; bright, pretty things to look up to, live up to. I looked down and saw a rat in darkness venture out for supper and for fortune. That rat and its kindred: they’re social and intelligent creatures, full of enterprise, who care for their own let the world or some putative God(s) think what they will. Those rats, they treat each other better than do we Americans each other; better far than do we treat others who never asked for the receipt of our unwisdom. They only eat the dead, not make them so.
What we need, we Americans, is to look down and learn from these least beings; to leave others to make their own way untormented by our avarice and self-deceptions; to love wealth less and each other more. That is the one, the only revolution worth having. My brothers and sisters, be it soon; make it now.
—from the daybook
for my fellow citizens
Richard Wyndbourne Kline