No Promises

by Eric Chaet

I can make no promises
since it appears that I haven’t the power to fulfill any—
I haven’t the power to live longer than I’ll live
or anything like the aggregate power
of those working at cross-purposes to mine.

I don’t seem to have the power, even
to live deliberately from the moment of my decision, til I die.

I find I can take on tasks, if I don’t have to get permission—
I wouldn’t even know who to ask, or for what support—
& I can follow thru, for long periods
before I lapse into the storm of frustration that punctuates them.

The tasks & periods are only tactical, anyway—
they don’t actually change the world forever for better
tho they make me more capable—
but the right capacities, capable enough, soon enough?

They’re only part of the habilitation program I began decades ago.
I certainly can’t promise
that I’ll ever be sufficiently habilitated to break thru
the shell, bureaucracy, default magnetosphere—
the system of things, the cybernetic internet of things—
the habits & expectations created by greed, cruelty, self-deception
& imitation—however adept or inept.

There are always people driven by an acute sense of scarcity—
motivated by fear & by greed & lust for control over others—
they go down fighting, or rule smaller or larger empires
whether briefly, or for decades, & manage to pass them on, too.
There are always Pythagoreans, who would overcome fear
by breaking the mathematical code of the physical universe
&, so, engineer secure, efficient, convenient abundance
sufficient to silence even those most disadvantaged
by circumstances & by others’ legal or illegal crimes.
There are always Confucians seeking order & harmony
via self-disciplined respect for tradition
mid feverish enthusiasms & warring demands & grievances
of genders & generations, tribes, nations, classes, & parties.
There are always Buddhists, Christians, communists
& devotees of motherhood & the hearth
& those who believe that fairness inevitably follows Reason.
There are always people with opinions
whose origins they are unaware of
& people posing as more in control of their lives than they are
& always complacent people
who have reached a stage they struggled to reach
& others around them are still struggling to reach
so they imagine they have become what everyone yearns to be.

I respect & learn from them all—
they’re all partially wise & righteous
but all of them also divide people
& all eventually provide excuses for tyranny
& slaughter, always in self-defense.

I can’t promise that my life will be much of an example.
So far, I’m less successful than my heroes
none of whom was anything like entirely successful—
so far, I’m even less successful than average.

I can’t promise to do you much good
not even mentally, let alone socially
let alone helping you thrive, financially or physically
for a moment, or year, or decade or two, or however many you get—
with our without others’ understanding or cooperation.



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