My meanderings in old cemeteries offer frequent reminders that poverty and hunger, natural dangers, and lack of medical advances or resources were far from the only causes of early and numerous deaths among our forebears. Chief among the causes is—and I fear, will always be—ignorance. All one has to do is spy a few headstones marking the graves of persons killed in The War, the World War, or even the so-called Great War to realize that despite terrible, lengthy, massive battles and wars in ages past, our more recent ancestors still believed that one war would ‘end all wars’ and that it was an anomaly. We should be so astute and peace-loving. Instead, we always find new ways to mistreat and murder our fellow beings, and the rate of discovery for cures and self-improvements never quite keeps up with the pace of our ills, let alone outruns them.
The Emperor’s Newest Costume
An Empire never gave good reason why
It ought to rule instead of native sons
And daughters, who, if they survive the guns
And carpet-bombing, still might long to die,
For terrible and bitter is the rule
Of anyone who dares to steal the throne
Of any land or country not his own,
Who often trades a despot for a fool,
Or worse, fool for a despot, and the land
And all its people suffer at the change,
No better, oft enough, and ever strange,
Without the hope and strength to countermand
The awful miseries imposed by those
Who choose to rule as wolves in ovine clothes.