Our grandchildren probably won’t remember,
The very young ones never knew
When we loved all our neighbors, or
At least believed we should;
When we were the tide that lifted all boats,
And pulled on the oars together;
When we agreed to disagree;
When capitalism was an economic system,
Not a form of government, or religion;
When democracy was a goal–
An inspiration, an aspiration, an answer.

As the world shrank, so did the tribe.
The communists and socialists were never allowed.
A proudly Christian nation
Sent away the tired and the poor and the huddled masses
And trimmed away the colored and the foreign born,
Those with funny names and accents.
Now it’s the liberal uncles and Democrats,
Scientists and civil servants,
The sick and jobless,
And anyone who questions The Leader,
Who must be excluded.

How quickly the promise of America is yielding,
The ideal fading into naive illusion
With every shrug and each forgiving grin,
Every “Yeah, but…” and “What about….”
In the din of self-protective silence
The aspiration dies, the goal is lost, the answer rejected.
The hard work of caring for all of ourselves
Has been given up to grievance,
The social security of mutual commitment
Replaced by trust in power.

The capitalists and oligarchs are winning,
Have maybe won already.
They’ve always wanted it all.
They divided us and we fell.
As we fail to govern ourselves
We will be ruled…
By Owners and their obsequious servants,
Enabled by our apathy and fear
And a soporific belief in our entitlement.

Remind the children that freedom is hard—
Hard to win, hard to keep, intimidating even,
And hope they reach and pull the long arc back
Toward love and justice.


Robert Rack