Politics over Friendship

Will we find that it’s fine, eventually, all by itself,
that it’ll blow over with the passage of time, I wondered.
Life’s a daily civics lesson, not all of us on the same page now.
I was applauding Guy for being angry about what I saw
as the right thing, but I hoped the problem would simply pass.
He and I do dislike the same people and their ugly ideas,
but I’m too quiet a person to act out my anger publicly.
At the height of his heated speech on the need for change,
many of us at the fundraiser began to hoot and clap.
But then one friend, Roy, stood up and began calling
for him to stop, to settle down, because, he said,
this could only make the situation worse without helping.
Maybe he should be running for office, I thought.
Most of us had known each other since we were little kids,
a long time ago, and the bunch of us finally quieted down.
We weren’t a mob; we were civilized people wanting change.
We’d all been peaceniks once, but life changed some of us.
As we were leaving, someone – no one saw who –
threw a coffee cup at the friend who’d calmed us down.
It hit him in the back of the head but didn’t break.
He went down on one knee and blood trickled down his neck.
We were all friends once, and now we’d come to this,
torn over conflicting ideas greater than our life bond.
And I thought, as we helped him to his feet, not even
showing up to vote will ever heal an injury like that.

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