I know the temptation – any stick to diss them,
Any ally welcome, any grudge a friend –
Any note of caution is abject criticism,
Any mediation is weakness to the trend.
But surely we are judged by the company we keep,
Regardless why we keep such clientele –
The rival of my enemy might sometimes be a creep
Who should really be my enemy as well. Real politic with an opportune autocracy
Is just another way to say hypocrisy.
Hear me now, for this is wisdom,
Handed down the generations:
This is where the rule is from
That founds all laws and inspirations.
Thrice they spake a noble precept,
Thus salvation’s road is three-stepped.
Firsly: be a better neighbour
Loving all the world as brothers.
Second: we must welcome labour –
Work is virtue like no others.
Thirdly comes a code most shapely
(Though just what, I own, escapes me.)
Therefore, speak unto all fellows
Honest words – no slanders mutter.
Never shirk to work the bellows,
Turn the earth, or churn the butter.
And that other thing: pursue it –
(What it says to do . . . well, do it.)
So behold: three schemes for living;
Three the ways to languor foil
First there’s love, respect, forgiving;
Next there’s graft, provision, toil –
Third comes…what ? Oh, saints preserve me !
(But I’m sure it’s mighty worthy.)
Do not hunt out conspiracies, my friends –
There’s no-one out to get us,
For we do not greatly matter.
There’s no-one’s jailed for heresies, my friends –
Though they sometimes read our letters,
They will find there only chatter.
Yes, corruption still exists,
We can be sure,
And lord, its presence in our midst
Is not a thing we should ignore –
But none of it is organised
By an elite beneath a gorgan
(Or a lizard), plotting dooms
In panelled dark and smoky rooms.
My friends, I know ! It feels so wrong
To only shrug and move along –
What answer is coincidence ?
It makes no sense
To pattern-seeking minds.
If there is any agency (of either kind)
Within the noise of daily life,
We’d barely know amidst the strife
Of multiple false-positives.
I urge, there’s nothing causative
In most of what we’d swear is true –
I know, because I’d swear it too.
But do not hunt conspiracies, my friends –
When cock-ups happen all the time,
And secrets are so rarely kept.
The thing about most tyrannies, my friends,
Is just how public is their crime –
To rule by fear, your subjects must be prepped.
Their heavy-handed propaganda
Never gets mistook for candour,
And their unofficial action is their very public policy.
See, evolution gifted us
An urge to talk and share, and thus
The covert are the daily news, and secrets know no modesty.
For ev’ry extra spy who lurks behind the scenes
Is just another pair of lips to spill the beans.
My friends – beware conspiracies.
Beware their never-sated thirst –
For surely it is better yet to hope the best than fear the worst.
And if sometimes we’re taken in,
At least we don’t let fear win !
And be prepared to be surprised
By happenstance in pattered guise –
The tin-foil cannot block it,
Nor computers plot its dance –
So keep your Occam in your pocket
For the vagaries of chance.
Since days of Wolsey, there we’ve been,
Lurking beneath the throne –
The éminence grise, or tabby, or brown,
The whiskered presence behind the crown.
Each light-footed tom and dagger-clawed queen
Has worked their paws to the bone,
Keeping our ministers free from vermin,
Keeping the rodents from nesting in ermine.
For we are civil servants too,
Patrolling halls of power –
Wherever the traitors skulk and plot,
We’re here to pounce upon the lot.
For mouse or magpie, rat or shrew,
We’ll make those riff-raff cower !
While members jeer and speakers spout,
We’ll keep the rebel squeakers out.
So much emotion invested
In teams over which we have little control;
So many loyalties tested,
Where happiness hangs on a single damn goal.
We buy into brands and we swear that we’re theirs,
But we’ve nothing to offer ’cept hoping and prayers;
So they win or they lose – and at least someone cares,
Though we act like it cost us our soul.
But all of that devotion
For an empty sporting rite
Must leaves no spare emotion
To our fellow humans’ plight:
There’s torture to be ending, and forests to be saving,
There’s justice to be tending, and freedom to be braving;
There’s too much needs defending to waste our flags with waving,
Let’s get our passions working here instead.
We need to get ignited for the good of all the blighted,
Regardless if they’re wearing blue or red.