From now until at least the midterm elections in November, we’ll be featuring essays from powerful cultural voices alongside one simple thing, chosen by the author, that you can do to take action against the paralyzing apoplexy of the daily news. Maybe it’ll be an organization that deserves your donation; maybe it’ll be an issue that deserves greater awareness. Whatever it is, our aim is to remind you, and ourselves, of the big and small things we can do to work toward justice and change.
A Land Governed by Unkindness Reaps No Kindness
by Terrance Hayes
I commit to vote in 2018 because a land governed by unkindness reaps no kindness. A land governed by fire finds no rain. I commit to vote because a land governed by the self-righteous is rarely right. A land governed by bloodshed sheds blood, a land governed by the drowned will have nothing but rain for as long as the drowned reign. “I pick up my axe & fight like a farmer,” Jimi Hendrix sings in “Machine Gun.” I commit to vote because I will not love a land where belief has the same status as truth, a land where property means more than building. I will not love a land governed by men with coins covering their eyes, men with trunks for mouths, without ears, with clogged snouts and scales, rulers, sabers, flags. A land governed by madness is mad. “I pick up my axe & fight like a farmer.” A land where helmets crawl over the hills and men emerge from the earth covered in exhaustion is a land whose energy is made of suffering. I commit to vote because I will not love a land governed by someone who has never made his own bed, who has never made anything but money. I commit to vote because any intelligent person has to fear when someone with no respect for authority has authority.
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Commit to vote in November.
Terrance Hayes is a poet, educator, and 2014 MacArthur Fellow. His seventh book of poetry, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, will come out this summer.