I am a refugee from the City upon a Hill.
My homeland once a resounding light to the nations; has become a convulsing black hole, threatening to devour any semblance of civility.
My City, once a radiant promontory of enlightenment, its illumination of liberty’s searing torch revered, it’s practical striving for democratic wisdom shaping the long arc of the moral universe emulated by people of good will across the globe; now lies in state as a mordant corpse, serenaded by a funereal chorus of laughing griffins, a dead patriarch surrounded by the ruins of a once opulent now sacked city, a bygone home to the scattered disassemblage of a once noble people.
I recoil from the rancor of extreme partisanship, the gerrymandered apportionment of citizenship rights, the buoyant vindictiveness celebrated by small minded ignorance.
The blind allegiance to jingoistic nationalism, the adulation of Blueline authoritarianism, the fealty to imperial militarism and the dangerous trajectory of it’s awful consequence yet to come, enthralls me with dread.
Compelled patriotism enforced by threats of faux patriots, amoral ammosexuals, their small hands stroking quick triggers of long guns, genuflecting in mastabutory glee to the preeminence of 2nd Amendment atrocities, angling crosshairs of resentments to firmly fix a promise of ghoulish body counts, a rationalized apocalypse a captive people must suffer to underwrite profiteering gunrunners who blindly defile the constitutional tenets of life, liberty and happiness, the blood splattered keystones of our true exceptionalism.
Xenophobia and racialism, are stoked and celebrated by the City’s chief executive, his impish smile mouths Blood and Soil sloganeering, he solemnly salutes the Confederate flag while cheering torchlight processions of enraged White Nationalists marching to the drum of the Grand Republic’s midnight dirge along the once hallowed trail of Jeffersonian Democracy and a sacred place of secular enlightenment and higher learning. His gleeful decrees tweet the destruction of families and his police agents mouth holy scriptures to justify the imprisonment of children. These vandals rhapsodically paint images of phantasmagoric nightmares trampling and mocking democratic ideals, resurrecting long settled conflicts, terrible tests a once great City rose to extinguish, now swelling numbers of craven citizens ardently embrace Klansmen, insurrectionists and Nazi’s as righteous brethren.
The madness of chauvinism and racial supremacy has fully metastasized within the body politic, polluting the mind, infecting the bloodline with a virulent strain of a white blood cell disease coursing through the veins of republican citizenship.
A City stolen from the Native inhabitants, ethnically cleansed and its former inhabitants remanded to the prisons of reservations, a City constructed on the backs of chattel slaves, erected on the graves of exploited wage laborers, provisioned by the ruthless denigration of the earth’s bounty, law and order mandated by criminalizing the marginalized, repressing the civil liberties of outliers and subjecting women to a perpetual status as the second sex underclass; has failed to repent and steadfastly refuses to make reparations for its sinful past has made the City uninhabitable.
The embrace of tolerance and diversity is the balm, the curate that can salve the oozing sores crippling the City. Nativist prejudice is a long protracted path that City citizen’s find impossible to exit. The malevolence that consumes the mind and moves the soul of a desperately spiteful people, who take delight and find it necessary to dehumanize and imprison alien races and creeds to maintain vapid notions of superiority, profane the ideals of a republican calling. They ruefully ignore the beacon of light warning of the dangerous shoals that lay ahead. The ideals of the great democratic experiment on course to be dashed on the jagged rocks of ignorance, fear, and anger. The doomed City has set a course that endangers its embargoed citizens. Travelling in steerage, a captive body, believing they are on a course for the rebirth of the City’s greatness are emboldened and chained by the delusions of their self destructive steadfast resentments.
My home City has become unknown to me. I have become a stranger in this strange land. What was once beloved has become insufferable. What was once treasured has become burdensome. The familiar has become fully alien. A terrible avenging apparition haunts and mocks people of good will. My heart is disheveled. My spirit bruised. My body literally aches from the wounds exacted from the deconstruction of my beloved metropolis.
I stand stranded at the border of incivility. Bewildered I peer through a protective wall of concertina wire, eyeing the imprisoned haughty souls of fully enfranchised citizens, bellowing self righteous psalms, singing interminable lamentations of terminal ignorance.
Condemned by their belief in the salvation of violence and recrimination, secure in their faith that their moat of self righteousness shelters them from the gulags of perdition they eagerly proclaim for others, feeling recused from the bane of sinfulness by meager tithes, tumidity and scriptural specificity and the sweet delusional conviction they are the chosen tribe of God’s favor; their aspirations viscerally dashed in blizzards of metaphysical illusion strewn like meaningless confetti onto a passing parade of barbarians who have taken the City as its grandest prize.
Sadly I must withdraw from my beloved City. I retreat to a refuge where the barbarians dare not enter. Their ignorance and stasis weds them to a place far from my sanctuary of choice. May my sanctuary restoreth my soul!
I find refuge in the temples of jazz. I sing arias of lucent improvisation. The freedom of unbridled expression reinvigorates the mind, alighting the emanation of our better angels. The music calibrates my soul with the syncopated beat of an irrepressible life force, the humanity of my welling heart swells on the sonorous oxygen of a lyrical free spirit.
I take refuge in our vanishing mountain wilderness. The natural world offers a solace of solitude, a unrequited impression of scale and a transcendent communion immune from the trampling cacophony of gleeful vandals running rampant through the streets of the City. In winter the summits are capped in crowns of viginal snow, spring awakens a dormant flora, autumn leaves shout the chorus of a seasons glory and summer flowers bloom in multitudes of brilliant colors marking a startling contrast to the fifty shades of gray tattooed onto the City’s restive souls by the purveyors of power.
I find respite on the friendly banks of rivers and breeze swept ocean shores. The perfume wafting along a rivers streaming eddies or a briney snort gulped from the foam of a cresting wave invigorates the lungs, strengthens the heart and clears the mind. The flow of living water heals lifes wounded spirit. It quenches a thirst for justice and nourishes the hope of freedom for all incarcerated souls. The ceaseless roll of the ocean waves prove the enduring power and inevitability of liberty.
I find a good refuge in books. Here I discover a fleeting glimpse of our forgotten love of knowledge and pursuit of truth and rational thought. Enlightenment is the plot of every storyline.
I take refuge in art. I escape into the multiple dimensions of aesthetic beauty trouncing the twittering banality of fad, pornographic affectations and consumer fethishism. Glimpsing beauty while beauty is there to behold and the diligent practice of its creation is an answer to a higher calling.
I take refuge in my dog. Unconditional love and trusted friendship are values at peril in a transactional world; virtues nobily demonstrated and freely given by our canine and feline friends.
I take refuge in late night comedy. Working the midnight shift, whistling past the graveyard with a hearty laugh helps to while away the desperate hours. The rancid fruits of our labor leave a bitter taste in our mouths, humor is the bread of life that clears the palate and makes the terrible sufferable.
My lasting sanctuary is the stronghold of faith, forbearance and tolerance. I trust the long arc of justice will bend toward the righteous and offer a pathway of redemption for all desecrated souls.
I take refuge in the Blues. Let my lamentations turn to songs of joy and deliverance.
I take refuge in prayer. May my places of exile restore and heal my denigration. May God deliver us to a good destination. May our generational wanderings in the desert of desolation end in the discovery of a good place of habitation.
In the solitude of prayer may I experience catharsis, may my petitions find an open ear, may I achieve clarification, may my pious supplication be genuine , my conviction firm, a direction found, a decision made, a call to action clear. May I become a healer of the breach.
May Your grace be sufficient for me.
I declare my exile over. I will return to my City. I will attempt to rekindle the extinguished flame of liberty to dispel the darkness enveloping my City.
Mark Almond: The City