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Sunday Poetry Blogging: Immoral (2002)

April is the poet’s month.

I wanted to post something by Andrea Dworkin this weekend; I know that she wrote poetry, but I don’t know where to find most of it. The published works that I’m familiar with are prose: essays, short stories, novels. Her writing is poetic wherever she writes, but I wanted something in verse. Since I couldn’t find anything in print and my resources for really looking for it are limited, I decided to go with this. I don’t know whether this counts as poetry or not, properly speaking; I do know that it is exactly right. This is from Heartbreak (2002), her memoir and the last book that she finished before she died.

IMMORAL

People play life as if it’s a game, whereas each step is a real step. The shock of being unable to control what happens, especially the tragedies, overwhelms one. Someone dies; someone leaves; someone lies. There is sickness, misery, loneliness, betrayal. One is alone not just at the end but all the time. One tries to camouflage pain and failure. One wants to believe that poverty can be cured by wealth, cruelty by kindness; but neither is true. The orphan is always an orphan.

The worst immorality is in apathy, a deadening of caring about others, not because they have some special claim but because they have no claim at all.

The worst immorality is in disinterest, indifference, so that the lone person in pain has no importance; one need not feel an urgency about rescuing the suffering person.

The worst immorality is in dressing up to go out in order not to have to think about those who are hungry, without shelter, without protection.

The worst immorality is in living a trivial life because one is afraid to face any other kind of life–a despairing life or an anguished life or a twisted and difficult life.

The worst immorality is in living a mediocre life, because kindness rises above mediocrity always, and not to be kind locks one into an ethos of boredom and stupidity.

The worst immorality is in imitating those who give nothing.

The worst immorality is in conforming so that one fits in, smart or fashionable, mock-heroic or the very best of the very same.

The worst immorality is accepting the status quo because one is afraid of gossip against oneself.

The worst immorality is in selling out simply because one is afraid.

The worst immorality is a studied ignorance, a purposeful refusal to see or know.

The worst immorality is living without ambition or work or pushing the rest of us along.

The worst immorality is being timid when there is no threat.

The worst immorality is refusing to push oneself where one is afraid to go.

The worst immorality is not to love actively.

The worst immorality is to close down because heartbreak has worn one down.

The worst immorality is to live according to rituals, rites of passage that are predetermined and impersonal.

The worst immorality is to deny someone else dignity.

The worst immorality is to give in, give up.

The worst immorality is to follow a road map of hate drawn by white supremacists and male supremacists.

The worst immorality is to use another person’s body in the passing of time.

The worst immorality is to inflict pain.

The worst immorality is to be careless with another person’s heart and soul.

The worst immorality is to be stupid, because it’s easy.

The worst immorality is to repudiate one’s own uniqueness in order to fit in.

The worst immorality is to set one’s goals so low that one must crawl to meet them.

The worst immorality is to hurt children.

The worst immorality is to use one’s strength to dominate or control.

The worst immorality is to surrender the essence of oneself for love or money.

The worst immorality is to believe in nothing, do nothing, achieve nothing.

The worst immoralities are but one, a single sin of human nothingness and stupidity. “Do no harm” is the counterpoint to apathy, indifference, and passive aggression; it is the fundamental moral imperative. “Do no harm” is the opposite of immoral. One must do something and at the same time do no harm. “Do no harm” remains the hardest ethic.

1 reply to Sunday Poetry Blogging: Immoral (2002) Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Aakash

    Just found your blog, from Roderick T. Long’s. I noticed your name… I haven’t looked around here much, but I think I like your weblog better than that of the other “Charles Johnson”… ;-)

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