Like almost every other person socialized as a male on this planet, I was exposed to a culture glorifying violence and skill at it as a good unto itself. This was despite the fact that my parents actively taught us otherwise, to the point that a young high school graduate joined the army with a significant secret that was, at the time, utterly forbidden in that institution. So powerful was my need to prove myself a “man” (whatever the hell that is) that I was willing to toss aside my core values to do it. Is it any wonder that generation after generation is willing to throw itself into the meat grinder for the benefit of greedy, old men?
You chase it from your first steps,
running after it with innocent laughter,
a stick in your hand,
or whatever your mind makes it then.
You chase it on the schoolyard,
tossing leather through the air
or proving your worth with clenched fist
against a jaw
or the gut
of someone chasing it just as fast.
You chase it in your mind’s eye,
after sitting on your grandpa’s knee
listening to story after story
or of any other place you cannot find on a map.
You chase it at the matinée,
where you see bullet wounds as dye packs
rather than as hot metal tearing flesh
or the decades trying to recover.
You chase it through your life;
whether you wear the uniform or not
in a history stained with blood drawn across borders
from anyone those greedy, old men tell you to hate.
You chase Valhalla to glory,
because that is what you are supposed to do.
That is what makes you a hero
in your eyes
in their eyes
until they no longer need you.