Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Three kings of the earth,
met on a mountainside
beside a pool of vision.
They sat for a while and stared
until their respective kingdoms,
in watery reflection,
floated on the still water.
The first saw smoke of war,
limping trudge of amputees,
mudslides covering villages,
rivers thickly stagnant,
shanty town shacks,
rising sea engulfing farming lands
and a dust covered child,
face blankly devoid of hope,
sitting alone in the bombed rubble.
Finally, he spoke.
“We must do better”, he said,
“if there is to be a future.
My role must be service.
Time is short. I must lead my people
into the best sense of what they can be.
Self-interest may be their natural state
but they have potential,
can understand great concepts
like generosity, mercy and compassion,
can act selflessly, can raise their minds
beyond the here and now
into the blue, cloud-flecked sky.
I seek revelation and vision.
My people are sheep.
Where I lead, they will follow.”
The second stared into the water.
Light rain fell on his city.
Neon lights pooled in flouro flare.
Glittering glass buildings
glowed in the night,
crowds linked arms, jostled and laughed.
Then someone staggered from a building
and reeled through the street.
In a darkened, syringe-discarded alley
someone else slumped against a wall.
“All this is mine”, he thought.
“All its wealth is mine.
All these people are foolishly weak.
They are vulnerable and easily manipulated.
I sell the image they desire.
For that they willingly surrender
to me their wealth.”
When the third gazed into the water
there rose to the surface
poised and thrusting missiles,
tanks rumbling over the sand-hills,
mile upon mile of trench
embroidered with twisted, tortured
tangle of body and wire,
armies goosestepping through streets,
refugees in flimsy boats
or imprisoned in detention centres,
the world’s new and bitter gulags.
He laughed. “Fools believe anything.
My persuasive tools are their fear and vanity.
So simple. Feed them this:
‘You are the special ones.
I give you the greatness you merit.
Enemies without would take it from you.
Enemies within would betray you.
Fear all not of your tribe.
Build your walls.
Embrace your flag.
Those who are not for me are against you.’
In speaking thus I embrace my power
and make this people my slaves.”
Then the kings rose and went their separate ways.
Behind them, the great mountain stood darkly stern.
Above them, the mute sky was cloudless.
The pool they left was still and quietly smooth.
First published at Praxis online