Friday, April 29, 2005


Ode to Intolerance

A crowd of people toward me came,
from whence, I cannot say.
They were dancing in bright colors,
none was dressed in gray.

One young man left the crowd,
came up to me and smiled,
though dressed quite foppishly,
his face was very mild.

"Come join our dance!" the young man cried,
light shining from his eyes.
"Join us as we purge the earth
from silly, old-fashioned lies!

"There are those who dare to say
there can only be one way!
That to reach salvation
one must believe their faith!"

He stopped and laughed, and shook his head,
the absurdity was too great.
As if any mortal could
presume to know his fate!

"We on the other hand," he went on,
"know none can know the truth.
To say any other thing
is arrogant and uncouth.

"We come from many backgrounds,
love and peace are our aim.
We serve one sovereign lord--
'Tolerance' is his name!

"We judge not another man
for the choices that he makes.
He must look inside himself
for the counsel that he takes.

"Some say man is wicked,
evil from within--
I say on the other hand,
there's no such thing as sin!"

He stopped and looked expectantly,
waiting for my reply.
All the others came around,
and I let out a sigh.

How was I to tell them that
they were quite wrong indeed.
What could possibly make them
to my voice give heed?

"I cannot join you," I replied,
"I am afraid to say.
I too, serve one sovereign Lord,
Jehovah is His name.

"All have sinned against Him,
and all deserve the pit.
I myself deserve to be
damned to the Abyss.

"But-Praise God!-I'm glad to say
His precious Son was sent!
All men can now be saved-
just trust Him and repent!"

Back from me they all recoiled,
some spat upon the ground.
Angry eyes looked back at me
as I gazed around.

"You're one of them," the young man hissed,
disgust written on his face.
"One who claims that every man
needs your own God's grace!"

From the crowd a voice piped up,
"Shouldn't we hear him out?
Since we worship tolerance,
mustn't he have the benefit of the doubt?"

"Stay with him, if you will,"
the angry young man scoffed back.
"You've proved again that in this world,
of fools there is no lack.

"Come on with me!" he told the crowd,
"Let us continue in our march.
We will leave these fools behind,
in their ignorance to parch."

The crowd began to move away,
and some began to prance.
Soon music started playing,
and all joined in the dance.

In a moment they were gone
we two were left alone.
I who had refused to join,
and she who from the throng was thrown.

"Are you sure in what you say?"
she questioned thoughtfully.
"That there only is one way,
one path, one door, one key?"

"I know that what I said is true,
though intolerant it may seem.
Your former group," I replied,
"Lives in a dreadful dream.

"There is much I do not know,
but one thing I can tell.
Though they dance quite merrily,
they dance the path toward hell."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fumus aut Cruor?

I got a pamphlet in the mail today from the [my state] Medical Society. It is a twelve-page booklet urging its members to call their representatives to support a one dollar tax on cigarettes. Now, I think that smoking is a disgusting habit and I will do all I can to convince my patients to stop, but I do not think that it is the government’s job to slap smokers’ wrists by imposing a tax on them. A fold-out poster was included with the booklet. It showed a touching photograph of the outstretched hand of a child with the words: “5 reasons to raise [my state]’s cigarette tax” underneath. Very clever. The five reasons it listed were: 1) Prevent 72,000 kids from becoming addicted, 2) Help finance care for poor and elderly, 3) Improve health of citizens, 4) Lower health care costs, and 5) Cut smoking rates. First off, I think these people are delusional—if a person is addicted to smoking, an extra dollar a pack is not going to stop them from buying cigarettes. Second, even if it would decrease smoking (they say that New York’s $1.50 tax decreased smoking by 11%, but I do not know how accurate this is), how does the government have a right to punish people for performing a legal activity? What’s next, a dollar tax on hamburgers and fries?

And isn’t this “imposing” one’s own beliefs on people? A few weeks ago, in one of my small-group classes, the topic of abortion was brought up, and the question was asked about how we would respond to a woman wanting an abortion. Out of the five of us, every student said s/he was personally opposed to abortion—yet I was the only one who said I would not help the woman get one, everyone else said that s/he would refer her to an abortion clinic. They all believed that it was inappropriate to “impose” one’s own morals on a patient. This seems to be the prevailing attitude among healthcare professionals. My question is this: Why is it wrong to “impose” one’s morals on a patient by not helping her kill her baby, but it is totally fine to impose one’s beliefs about smoking, something that should be a personal choice, on the smoking populace? What a double standard.

72% of the Republicans, and 83% of the Democrats in my state support this tax. What would happen if I suggested a tax on abortions, something that has killed millions and millions more people than smoking ever has? My guess would be that there wouldn’t be a whole lot of support—maybe some support from Republicans, but the 83% of Democrats I’m sure would become more like 0%. After all, we can’t be imposing our values on other people, now can we?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Fessus Sum

I am currently in the middle of mid-terms, hence my lack of posting (one down, two to go!). I don't have the time or energy to write something new at the moment, so I am going to post a poem that I wrote a few weeks ago. This was actually my first attempt at writing a poem, and I had no idea that I was capable of writing one this long. It was inspired by a church's decision (not one that I currently attend, but one that I have an association with) to remove the hymnals from the pews. They still sing some hymns from a projector, so perhaps the situation did not warrant a response as dramatic as mine, but once I started writing I got on a roll and went a little overboard. Here it is:

Ode to Hymns

The horizon began to darken,
and clouds, they filled the sky,
dogs started barkin'
and I began to cry.

"You're being ripped away from me!"
I lamented with loud voice,
"Why can't the people see,
how much we can rejoice?

"Though your bindings are in tatters,
and dark spots stain your page,
though your smell is musty,
and you have surely aged,

"You've been with us for centuries,
here through thick and thin.
Praising God, renouncing sin,
as best a songbook can.

"Your words are full of wisdom,
your music sweet and rich.
Yet people say you're needless,
your music is 'excess'.

"For a while I was silent,
and I sat there in my pew,
the hymnals all walked past me,
dear shades of red and blue.

They looked so sad and forlorn
as they walked out of the church.
Their little hearts were broken,
my stomach gave a lurch.

As the last walked on by,
he looked into my eyes.
He said "you must stop crying--
it will be all right.

"Many of our songs will still be sung,
in this most noble hall.
The words of wondrous hymns will be heard
from wall to solid wall."

He was just trying to cheer me,
his eyes were empty and dull,
his precious heart was shattered,
it was no longer whole.

The brave little book continued out,
the doors swung shut behind,
Alone, unsheltered from the storms
that raged in the cold outside.

"Your songs will still be sung here, yes,
"I said, though there was none to hear,
"But it will never be the same,
for you have no peer.

"Your music will be stripped away,
your words projected on a screen,
laid out stark and naked,
by an ugly old machine.

"None will know your ancient beauty,
your history they will forget.
The faith and love that made you,
the hope with which you were knit.

"Back into the pew I now collapsed,
for fever racked my brow.
The emptiness overwhelmed me,
like a tidal wave on a small ship's bow.

I knew my life was fading,
I could but scarcely breathe.
With my last breath I cried out,
"Dear hymnals, please don't leave!"