October 11, 2019 by phicks2012
In my life — and I’ve lived a while even though I flatly refuse to say just how long — I’ve discovered that far too many people believe what they hear without questioning a word. This is especially true now, when people can say anything they want on social media and have it widely and indiscriminately believed.
Politicians have always lied about the records and character of both of their supporters and their opponents, and people have always inflated to sins of their enemies and minimized the shortcomings of their friends and idols. That’s a fact. but too many people believe that if it appears in print or is said by someone famous then it has to be true.
They also will choose to believe a salacious lie over a boring truth nearly every time. Go figure.
I’ve seen people idolized and rewarded who laid claim to the deeds and achievements of others and who wore more faces than a 20-sided die. I’ve also seen the reputations of wonderful people ruined by the lies of jealous, malicious (and even insane) people, and I’ve heard both types of fabrications repeated as unquestioned truth by other people who have never met the individuals they then praise or defame.
So I’ve learned to question, and never to take anything I hear or read literally at face value or as unalterable fact. I believe it’s in our nature to need heroes, and villains, but in this day and age when so many idolize so-called internet “influencers” (who are basically famous for amassing undiscerning followers), and when so many people are so easily seduced by extremist views, I’ve learned that one man’s hero is another’s mega-villain, and that it’s safer and wiser to look from the middle outward than to look from either extreme inward.
In any case, this is a poem about believing, and about that we chose to believe — for what it’s worth, and it also will be published in our SCA Newsletter, The Equinox.
Word-fame is not fact, and belief is not truth.
What we say, how we act, in the heat of our youth
May be changed in the telling; nobility gained
With the passage of years, til our honor’s unstained.
And so can our repute become tarnished indeed
By a tale falsely told, if too many pay heed,
Giving credence to liars, in credulous herds,
Helping falsehoods amass by repeating their words.
Every heart needs a hero, the soul to inspire,
To enable our noblest dreams to catch fire.
Dreams can make of us noble, and courage confer,
Truly making us better than ever we were,
But each tale wants a villain, and someone to blame,
And we don’t always wait before calling his name,
Heeding tales falsely woven to lure and deceive,
And when questions should flow, we may simply believe.
Therefore question your heroes, their feet might be clay.
They may be clothed in silver, or wear shades of gray,
Truly standing as giants, or lesser in size,
For they both look the same to unquestioning eyes.
And be sure of your villains, whose tales you might share,
For they may not be marked by the colors they wear,
They may be dark as night, with their souls black as tar,
Or walk out of the shadows to shine like a star.
[12 September, A.S. LIV (2019)]