The Trouble with Our State

The trouble with our state
was not civil disobedience
which in any case was hesitant and rare.

Civil disobedience was rare as kidney stone
No, rarer; it was disappearing like immigrants' disease.

You've heard of a war on cancer?
There is no war like the media
There is no war like routine
There is no war like 3 square meals
There is no war like a prevailing wind

It blows softly, whispers
Don't rock the boat
The sails obey, the ship of state rolls on.

The trouble with our state
--we learned it only afterward
when the dead resembled the living who resembled the dead
and civic virtue shone like paint on tin
and tin citizens and tin soldiers marched to the common whip

--our trouble
the trouble with our state
with our state of soul
our state of seige--
was
civil
obedience.

Daniel Berrigan is a Sojourners contributing editor.

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