I was taught that ignorance
Is to be pitied; none of us,
After all, came to earth particularly
Enlightened, and all of us came
Defenseless, selfish, and needy.
Many do not know what
You or I may particularly know,
But all of us come by our knowledge
(As we do all forms of riches)
By combinations of internal
And external circumstances.
We all know this.
We all know this. Yet…
Many take the ultimate position
Of privilege; namely, that they are
The only true possessors of morality,
Or ethics, or right-and-wrong distinctions.
From this position, they judge all others
Who do not see the world exactly as they do
Not as ignorant, but as evil.
All people who ever lived.
So the early twenty-first century
Woman or man sees themselves as sitting
On a sort or moral throne, and only
Their own ignorance of history has them
Believing themselves and their own ancestors
Innocent of the common shortcomings of humanity,
Or unaware that future moral judges will
Calumnize them, as well —
Which is very much to be pitied,
As it extremely unfortunate.
Happily, we as people
Are better than the ideals we often espouse;
We find individuals in life to be
Limited without ascribing those limitations
To wickedness, although we often do so
In the abstract.
People who came before us knew
Both more and less than we do;
They knew differently, as circumstances
Dictated. Some believed in ideas you or I
May find abhorrent, but most
Were the same as we are —
Trying their best,
Ignorant (like us!),
And full of all the good and evil
Humans are prone to.
It is almost universally accepted
That we should not accuse
Those not able to defend themselves,
And past generations cannot, by definition.
So make choices, as we all must,
With some degree of humility;
We are all in the dark, after all,
As to most of what there is to know,
And wisdom, while facing the future,
Treads lightly on the past.