The Futility of Action
Our lives are sprawled in a meaningless maelstrom
where aims benevolent or evil, selfish or practical
eventuate in tortured remnants of former hopes,
where Christ’s counsel of love to all his lambs,
turns some to love, turns tigers on the rest.
Treasured maxims inspire nothing sure:
to give a man a fish relieves his hunger for a day,
but teaching him to fish gives him a useful skill —
whereupon he loots the bay, pollutes the sea
with fish guts, and decimates a hundred species.
Charities prolong the lives of starving wretches
so they can then beget more impoverished souls —
despair intensified by acts intended to be kind.
And all the laws, commandments, codes,
all the religious dreams and political schemes
become a tattered jumble of worn-out aspirations
distorted into pestilence by ruthless mountebanks;
democracy, so beloved, so prized as our salvation,
frittered away, citizens kept quiescent by luxuries,
victimized by slimy charlatans who lie and cheat,
liberty the right to do what is wrong.
And —greatest irony —the scientists,
the ones we call the nerds,
the ones portrayed with over-bites,
pocket protectors and mended glasses,
the ones devising pain killers and nuclear bombs,
vaccines and cultures of anthrax,
electric lights and electric chairs —
these, the nerds, become the only ones
who have done — can do —anything,
good or bad, that seems definitive.