Optimism/Pessimism: A Kafkaesque Meditation

POETRY FORMAT, 26 Dec 2016

Gary Corseri – TRANSCEND Media Service

I used to be an optimist.
When I was 5, someone told me,
“Santa Claus does not exist!”

In my teens I learned he’d been murdered
by a Commie-sympathizer
with a Sears’ catalogue rifle.

Much later, I learned he’d been blown up
(with Rudolph the red-nose reindeer)
because of the cut of his jib!

Blown up by terrorists, they told me.
Because of the cut of his jib!

I could almost understand!
I never liked his garish outfits–
startling red, with bright, white trims!

(I never liked his rotund style–
that “Ho-ho-ho!” jocundity!)

It was also the “fake news,” they told me.
He was spreading too much cheer!

Climbing down chimneys in the middle of the night!
Leaving all kinds of packages!
God only knows what you find when unraveling!
He never even went thru Homeland Security!

“Get with the program!” they told me.
“The Power of Positive Thinking”
is all that old-hat stuff!

“But the children?” I wondered, “the children….
Who will tell the children?….”
______________________________________

Dr. Gary Corseri is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He has published and posted articles, fiction and poems at hundreds of venues, including, TMS (Transcend Media Service), The New York Times, Village Voice, Redbook Magazine and Counterpunch.  He has published 2 novels and 2 collections of poetry, and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere.  He has performed his poems at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and has taught in universities in the US and Japan, and in US public schools and prisons.  Contact: Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Dec 2016.

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4 Responses to “Optimism/Pessimism: A Kafkaesque Meditation”

  1. I would want the children under 13 to still believe in Santa Claus. I believed in him when I was a small child, always had a Christmas tree, always went to relatives on Long Island.
    I remember the exciting time once I had my own children. It was so much fun! When they got older they just let me know what they needed or wanted.
    Same with my grandson and now my great grandson. He is so excited and thrilled. I am not sure when or what age when I learned the truth.
    but as it always goes, let a child believe as long as possible. They, as we did, will find the day when we understand how terrifying our country and our earth is, they will learn about all the corruption. I wish I could spare them from the future which I am scared all the time about. BUT the smile and excitement I watched on my great grandsons face, how I pray that life will be better for him and Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny is not what will corrupt his reality.

  2. Gary Corseri says:

    Thank you for your comment, Ms. Heller. I am glad that you had pleasant holidays as a child.

    I do think there are different ways to approach a child’s well-being, happiness and education–so that he or she is not shocked later about the “corruption” in the world.

    Rather than glorifying fictional characters as the font of goodness, one might introduce children early on, especially on “special” days, to the glory of Nature! Take them camping in the mountains; take them to a petting zoo or aquarium. And teach them about the vulnerabilities of Nature, and how they may participate in creating a better world.

    Teach them about the wonders of Art; expose them to classical music, Jazz, folk songs, great, old movies. Take them to museums. Learn together!

    Why put things off, why delay? Wonder and corruption are all around us… so teaching children how to discern the opportunities and the pitfalls on life’s journey is a good way to armor them against “shocks” and protect them against inevitable disappointments

    Teach them to give as well as receive. To help others less fortunate than they are–there can be joy in that, too.

    • More says:

      Deeply moving thoughts here. No doubt. I understand this poem and Heller’s comment to be reflections of the difficulties encountered while dealing with the ambiguities of socialization. For what it is worth I remember being extremely angered at the grown ups around me for all myths and metyphysical stuff they believed in and made me believe in without a shred of evidence or empiricism to match their idiosyncrasies. Boy did that make me angry when I caught up. How irresponsible. How misleading. How annoying. Children should be told what is what, but without harming their sense of marvel for the beauty of imagination and the sheer endlessness of natural diversity – in this I couldn’t agree more. Poetry and generosity and empathy and compassion and sensitivity for subtlety should go hand in hand with straight talk at all times. So as not to harden the heart beyond reason and mutuality.

  3. Gary Corseri says:

    Very well-said, “More.”! And I couldn’t agree with “More” more! I especially like your conclusion:

    “Children should be told what is what, but without harming their sense of marvel for the beauty of imagination and the sheer endlessness of natural diversity – in this I couldn’t agree more. Poetry and generosity and empathy and compassion and sensitivity for subtlety should go hand in hand with straight talk at all times. So as not to harden the heart beyond reason and mutuality.”

    Thank you!