Courage to shine

In this age of fear,
Rise to the occasion.
Smile at strangers.
Put terror in the hearts of fascists who hate to see you loose, free, trusting, fearless.

Incite those who hate good will.
Say If you don’t smile at me, don’t lust for strangers’ eyes – you ain’t free. Do not destroy my shine.

You don’t shine Sacramento.
The great flag above our glorious capitol flies in vain.
You fear yourself, your neighbor, everyone, everything.

All the monuments in this park Sacramento. You disgrace them.
Those guys didn’t die so you could cower.

Get pissed off.
Say you are ill from having everything beautiful in you destroyed.
Say you realize the damage you do to the hearts of your fellow citizens when you fear them,
When you let them know their freedom and good will is not welcome.

Think about it Sactoh!
We destroy each others’s hearts.
It’s all on film –
Secure little you walking through huge solid doors at the capitol.
Little men, little women failing to attain greatness,
Eagerly saying oh yes we can’t be too scrutinized,
Afraid to say this is neither a great nation, a great state, a great city, or a great people.

What do you dream about?
I’ve never heard anyone say freedom is more important than money.
I’ve never seen anyone on the west steps in the sun reading Whitman, vowing to be godlike.
I’ve never heard anyone updating Thomas Paine saying
It’s unnatural to have security cameras everywhere. They must come down.
Those who put them up must be deposed. Are you with me!

You are filed with shame but for the wrong reasons.
You are meant to be beautiful America!
Sacramento! With your weather, your rivers, this grand capitol, these inspiring grounds
You should lead this nation on its’ path to being beautiful and free,
Of having the greatest men and greatest women that ever walked the earth.

We are an extraordinarily ugly people.
I dare you to be free.
Walk around the park.

Salivate over oranges and tangerines golden and sweet, with no edges.
Isn’t that a combination to strive for?

Sit on a bench under these magnolias, lusting over their sensuous roots,
Going mad with passion,
Promising to restore everything that’s been lost when you get home.

You need help. Go to Father Serra. Kneel. Confess your cowardice, your selfishness,
Your refusal to be true to America. Ask father to bless you,
So you dare to risk yourself to be free like he risked himself for others’ salvation.

Stop at the bathroom. Smell the disgusting homeless. Look at how ugly they are.
They personify the hearts of the people who run this country,
The people who love to see you weak and fearful. When you piss,
Tell yourself you’re releasing all the fear that makes you a little man.

After peeing, stop at the olive tree. It used to be the greatest tree in the park;
Just like we used to be the greatest nation and the greatest state.

See the bamboo. Watch its’ soothing light. Imagine how beautiful the jungle is.
How magnificent a jungle night must sound with crickets and all its’ tropical birds.

When you get to the Vietnam Memorial, think of young men screaming in quick sand,
reaching for their buddies hand; all so you could satisfy every selfish desire,
And give unquestioning assent to more cops and more jails.
Are you embarrassed? Ashamed? Have you ever told a young person patriotism is horseshit,
That if he can go to another country to murder,
He can’t complain when someone rapes his mother or girlfriend?

Peace. This is your greatest challenge! There are soothing black benches in this oasis from glory.
Feel their curve as fountain’s water soothes you and the overwhelming capitol imposes itself on you.
Make peace with yourself. Invite your former friends, telling them you apologize;
Begging them to apologize. Invite your friends. Tell them to ponder the noble white capitol,
The beauty and peace of these roses. Look at them.
Tell them you plan to make yourself free and beautiful,
To inspire other people to pull themselves and the nation out of darkness.
Tell them you love America, but this is no country for lovers and it kills you.
Smell roses with them. Ask them if they cry more as they get older.

As you wander to your next station, stop and look at the hydrangeas on 14th.
A great place to read in seclusion,
Arming yourself with courage to face the onslaught of conformity that makes America shameful.

Now you’re at the Korean War Memorial; the most profound of our monuments;
The cracked obelisk symbolizing the crack that began America’s decline.
But instead of photographs of the soldiers, imagine photographs of America’s prisons and prisoners,
Our lobbies filled with security guards, malls filled with bored kids,
Scared women hurrying white-faced to their car,
You looking at the ground because you fear to look at people because they worry you’re a
criminal, a rapist, and a pervert.
America hates crime but loves to live in fear.
You haven’t done a thing but you feel like shit don’t you?
All the space that this monument takes up used to be beautiful.

While you’re here and since it’s winter, look toward L Street.
You’ve got a clear view of the firefighter’s monument,
Our heroes who would hose you down the street if you questioned the Patriot Act.

Good thing there’s a God. Across the street is the Presbyterian church. Sit on the lawn.
Look at the palm trees. Ask yourself what God thinks of you.
All God wants is for you to feel free or godly or to suffer trying to be one or the other.
You suffer but you aren’t noble.

Look at those pigeons on the roof of the church. You feel peace when they whoosh away.
Wouldn’t you love to instill the same feeling in others as you move along the street
reflecting God’s beauty?

Be proud and humble. Stroll to the shiny white capitol.
Let yourself be stunned by its’ unembarrassed glorification of perfection.

Have the courage Socrates and Jesus did to believe in perfection; to be godly at work,
At home, and with strangers.

Kneel again. Ask God to help you be as great as your talent allows; so when you die,
You rise to heaven on grand clouds above the capitol, escorted by pigeons.

For now, walk to the west steps, your knees muddy. Take off your shoes,
Walk on the concrete. When your colleagues pass,
Force them to look at you after they turned away.
Tell them you never knew the burden of freedom that it means to be an American until today.
When they scoff, allow yourself to cry.
Think of how many times Socrates and Jesus cried over the corruption of their nation’s principles.

You’re almost finished. Go to 10th Street. Turn around. Look at the capitol in silence.
Now go to 9th Street and look at it. In front of you is a huge fountain.
On each side is a proud building.
One building has an inscription – Into the highlands of the mind let me go.
The other inscription reads – Send me men to match my mountains.

Put your shoes on.

It’s time to shine.

Even if it kills you.

Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko