Going to the Extreme

There is a continuum
Of our response to any social issue
Be it poverty, oppression
Sickness, deprivation
The immigrant at the border
The woman facing a choice
Discrimination, bigotry
Violence, war

We can pass from fearfully rejecting, to accepting
One end of the spectrum being hostility
Progressing through antipathy and apathy
To sympathy, empathy, compassion
Ranging thus from outright hatred
To a deep-seated desire to better the conditions of all

Yet there is an additional, necessary step at the extreme end:
For it is not enough to feel the needs of others
And desire to meet them –
Actual action is required
Hard work, in the trenches, on the front lines
To alleviate suffering
Right wrongs
Instill justice
Afford opportunity
Ensure equality and freedom

It is in this last passing
From empathy, to action
That we find the true expression of humanity:
Mutual respect
And love
For each and all our fellows

Let this then be our charge
The work we take up:
To be extreme
In our activism
One for another

Mike Turner is a retired member of the U.S. Government’s Senior Executive Service. He served a 27-year career as a law enforcement professional in the Departments of Defense, Treasury, Homeland Security and Commerce. In retirement, Turner has had a second career as an award-winning songwriter and poet. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Dissident Voice. He can be contacted at www.MikeTurnerSongwriter.com. Read other articles by Mike.