Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Caution

This poem is directed at a few people on my mind lately, including me, but definitely not just me. It is a very basic part of human cognition to form quick opinions on people and things, to sort them into categories --friend, not friend, ally and enemy-- in order to function in a world of constant, unending stimuli. But some of the greatest cruelty I've ever been on the receiving end of has occurred when someone put me in a box and acted towards me out of that definition... when they stopped listening after they'd formed their initial opinion. I can say the same for the greatest cruelty that I've shown towards others.

Everyone is a miracle. Be careful.


Caution

Be careful with your assumptions, dear.
For with everyone you meet
you have stepped onto the stage
in the middle of an act
with the play well in progress.

There is so much you just don't know.
Be careful.

Be careful with your tongue, dear.
For with everyone you meet
you may well have walked in
just as the bottom dropped out
and they began a free fall into despair.

There are lives that are turned
by one cruel word.
Be careful.

Be careful with your labels, dear.
For everyone you meet
has tried to live as they know how
and is complex beyond your caricatures.

There is beauty and depth
far beyond your first impression.
Be careful.

Be careful with your actions, dear.
We are all so frightened and fragile.
When you walk in the world
awash in quick judgments
and careless characterizations...

the one you may well be wounding the most
is you.

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