Brothers will battle to bloody end,
and sisters’ sons their sib betray;
woe’s in the world, much wantonness;
[axe-age, sword-age – sundered are shields–
wind-age, wolf-age, ere the world crumbles;]
will the spear of no man spare the other.
Clearly, I’ve been reading the Poetic Edda. I finished the Prose Edda a few months ago, immediately read a book about Brigid and then a handful of fiction books, and am now moving into the Poetic Eddas. I’m not very deep into them yet, but I imagine that a lot of them will strike me the way this one did.
The last line of this particular stanza stood out, seemed to jump off the page in bold letters as if the book itself were screaming it. “Will the spear of no man spare the other?” It’s such a simple statement, but says so much. The poem here was talking about Rangarok–when the gods fight each other, unfortunately to the death. But it made me reflect on the here and now, too.
The only thing any of us really want is to have a good life. We all just want to live and exist and be happy. There is nothing wrong with this. Everyone has the right to happiness (yes, even Donald Trump as problematic as he is). Yet violence is rampant, crimes are committed daily, and people seem to only look out for themselves. It’s really rare to find someone who genuinely wants to help you and doesn’t expect something in return. But…if all we really want is happiness and an easy life, then why all the violence?
It’s because people aren’t happy. They keep thinking “if I could just get this” or “if only I had that then things would be better”. And in some regards they are right. Too many families live in poverty and don’t know where their next meal is coming from–for them getting food would make things better. Some families desperately need medication (like insulin, for example) and for them, getting it would make things better. But here’s the thing: we don’t need to harm each other to get what we need. Killing the guy across the street isn’t going to get food regularly on the table. Robbing the bank down the street isn’t going to get you that medication. But people resort to this kind of thing because they don’t know what else to do–they are desperate. It’s a scary thought when you have kids that are begging for food and you can’t give it to them. I don’t have kids myself (and honestly don’t want them), but I can imagine how horrible that must feel as a parent to know your kids are starving and you can’t do anything about it.
In all honesty, I’m not sure where I’m going with this post. I just know that the last line jumped out at me and made me think so much about the society of today. We have politicians that constantly try to pit us against each other: poor against rich, Americans against immigrants, even down (in some ways) to whites against people of color. None of this is ok. Not a single bit of it. We are all just people wanting to lead healthy happy lives, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m no more important than Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, and Fetty Wop is no more important than Macklemore. We all have purpose and place in this world. We each have journeys to take and paths to travel and stories to discover. No person is worthless, no one is less than another. We are all human. We all deserve safety, compassion, and a chance at a happy life. Yes, even that homeless guy pegging for pennies at the Dunkin Donuts down the street.
I have such a hard time understanding why anyone would think killing another human being is okay. I can’t fathom how someone could think it’s okay to disapprove so much of the way another person was living (so long as that person isn’t harming anyone else) that they would need to make them feel so bad as to make them not want to live anymore. I don’t understand why we can’t all just live in peace.
Perhaps I’m dreaming of a Utopia. I very well could be. Life would be nice if we could have a Utopia. I know I’m just dreaming though. I have faith in humanity, but I’m not naive enough to think a land of sunshine and rainbows where nothing bad ever happens is actually attainable. (But I can still wish.)