Pauza Magazine Winter 2008 - Page 10

Poetry and Inspiration by Vince Drader I wrote the following poem one night after I had a conversation with an English teacher in a small high school in Veles, Macedonia. We started talking about soccer in the U.S. compared to soccer in Macedonia and Europe, and I commented that soccer was growing in popularity; this is why David Beckham was paid to come to the U.S. to play for the Galaxy. We then spoke about the money he had been paid to come, and what someone could do with all of that money! What we would do with the money, and what good could be done with the money. We spoke about all of the cars some people have, all the houses, jewelry, etc… Then the teacher said that David Beckham was also once wearing a ring that cost a great amount of money. This ring’s worth could rival the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of some smaller countries. But what sticks in my mind the most is when we discussed the need and want for such things, she said, “I have two cars my husband and I share. Sometimes we need both, because one may need repair or an emergency might come up. But owning five, ten, fifteen cars? I mean, you cannot sit in them all at once! I can only sit in one car at a time! I can only drink from one at one time [holding up her soft drink]! If I have two, I will spill it all. No matter if I have two or three, I can only have one at a time!” I started thinking about this idea more. I thought about war in general and why wars start. Many wars have been started or augmented by those that had little, and war most certainly always involves a struggle for an economic foothold. The thoughts came in a stream of consciousness, as they do now, neither right nor wrong, just thoughts. I thought about the general idea of need versus want, and thought of many other people who thought about the same ideas before me. Gandhi once said, “Live simply, so others may simply live.” The Rolling Stones once sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need” (a phrase so dear to me it is tattooed on my right shoulder). Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give away.” These ideas are old, of course. They are ideas we have all thought about I am sure, or we wouldn’t be here in the Peace Corps. (And it is good to be in the company of such great people like you.) So should David Beckham be allowed to have ten cars? Should Donald Trump be able to have a vacation home in every state? May I go out and buy a diamond-studded pinky ring? My answer is yes! (though not on a Peace Corps salary). Anyone should have this right. But perhaps we should think more about what it is we do. Often, we (the collective “we,” meaning people in general) are “kings stowing thrones.” I have mentioned a few quotes and thoughts of others before, but perhaps none is truer (while still being humorous) than Mark Twain’s, “I smoke in moderation… one cigar at a time.” 10 - pauza Kings Throwing Stones There once was a king who enjoyed sitting, But no throne in which he sat was fitting, None fit his need to sit and make his decree. So he had many thrones made. One he sat in some days, the next day, another. In some thrones he sat just once. Another he found uncomfortable, and gave it to his mother, Thus, awkwardly the Queen would sit, though she never fussed. Many carpenters and blacksmiths were told, To make a few thrones from fine gold. But there was never enough gold to suit the king. So a decree went out to all the subjects, That all the people would donate their rings, To be melted and made into thrones for the king. If you had not a ring, a necklace would do. If you had only silver, then you’d give two. Thrones and thrones were stowed, Piled high in the king’s chamber. Soon he had enough thrones, For every house and its neighbor. He had enough thrones for everyday, his subjects knew his luxury: “How is it that we have to stand and the king sits comfortably?!” “As we can only drink from one cup at a time, No matter how much drink we may have, No one can sit in more than one throne at one time. If the cup runneth over, then there’s more than one needs, Sell a throne or two and see how many thrones feed.” The people needed a seat, so they ran the castle over, In the king’s chamber they took back their thrones. And a new decree was made: That the king would always stand, And be stoned by any subject he meets, That he did wrong by, or gave cruel demand. Now people throw stones, At kings who stow thrones, It is a sad and true fact. For what kind of king, Stows thrones and melts rings, When his land has been sacked, His people have nothing, And his thrones lie stacked. Everyone needs something, Something everyone lacks. But may all know, Never to stow. For the people throw stones, At the kings who stow thrones.