Bonds of Unity

Our empathy is very low,
Our hubris very high;
And each is kept right where it is
By its own special lie —

We do not empathize because
We’re told that we cannot:
If you’re not in a group, as such,
You’ll get told that a lot

So people balkanize, and then
Tend to their own condition,
And empathy remains unused,
Ruled out by definition

Then over here, we have the other –
Hubris, it is called:
Because with our technology
We’re smitten and enthralled

We humans have been in this place
For just a little bit;
But yet we talk about “the planet”
As if we ran it

A new imperialism reigns
But stays with our borders:
As “smarter” people hound our lives
With their quixotic orders

Yes, it’s the Age of Hubris, and
The Disunited Age;
We must discard these “truths”
If we’re to turn another page

For we can empathize with those
Whose lives are not our own;
And human arrogance is vain,
We occupy no throne

Of lofty exaltation, we
Are not the stars above;
But should form bonds of unity
And empathy
And love


Abstractions are necessities,
But something of a curse;
We hate and fight and die for them,
While everything gets worse
Like most things that we generalize
About the human race,
We judge from what we know about
Some fraction of the case
We dress up with the language of
The modern college mind,
What really is just bigotry
But of an approved kind
And so we judge all women,
Or then so we judge all men;
Not thinking individuals
Are worth considering
We shed tears for humanity
And how it’s been defiled;
And pass the grieving widow
Who has lost
Her only

humility, to know

humility, to know the truth;
that what we know is small indeed:
that most grow older, all must die,
and everyone can break and bleed

but there are those, whose words i read,
who reach for ways to come to terms,
but gather only insolence,
and daily wash themselves with germs

but always find life reaffirms
the thoughts they gather in their heads.
yet, next to them, in that same crowd,
are others finding humble shreds

of life’s uncertain hues and threads.
i do not hold life’s answers here.
i cannot judge how others go;
for i, too, suffer yet, i fear

from arrogance, or something near.
but somehow, in the soul that seeks
to live in kind humility
i find a poetry that speaks

beyond our moral cracks and leaks:
for ‘faith’ has come to seem to mean
a smugness that just will not see —
but it need not mean that at all,
when it leads to

Hume’s Dilemma – Probabilistic Thinking

Behavior is often called “rational”
When it uses mathematical probabilities
To predict the future

A moment’s thought, however
Causes us to realize
We don’t know future probabilities

The world doesn’t work like a roulette wheel
Where there are a finite number
Of contrived outcomes; nevertheless –

The usual assumption is that
Future probability
Is identical to past frequency

Which is irrational

Therefore, in order to be rational
We must be irrational

Before you dismiss all of this
As so much logic chopping

The amount of modern life
Dictated to us
By people claiming
With high mathematical probability

To know the future

Of the entire planet or universe

The solution is not to dispense with predictions
(Which, it must be admitted,
Is what the author of these words
Does for a living)

But to couch them
With due humility
As to the limits of such things

And not use them
As a giant con
Designed to fool
The mathematically uninitiated

A Steady Diet

I wish to be delivered, daily, please
From “scientists” with liberal arts degrees.
They lecture me, at length, about my diet;
And speak when wiser minds might just be quiet.

They’ve never done the daily work of science,
But got it from a book they somewhere read:
And now, they’d cow the whole world to compliance
Engorged, themselves, upon what they’ve been fed.

But there’s no telling them they might be wrong,
They know how all of us can be improved –
It went into them like a sort of song:
It’s in their heads, and now
It can’t be

Panacea Central

 I occupy an endowed chair
(It's straight and hardback, over there)
 And I know everything that you
 Would ever need to know.

 Students need a mind? I grow it,
 If it's knowledge, then, I know it,
 And, as master of this college
 What I don't know isn't knowledge*.

 Now our country needs solutions.
 If you'll do the right ablutions,
 I'll give you my wordish pills, and
 Solve all of our social ills.

 Evolution led to me
 The height of new humanity;
 You won't need your own idea
 You've got me
 The panacea

(*With apologies to the famous Balliol rhyme.)