It's Friday afternoon and I've got yet another meeting (this one over drinks, but a business meeting is a business meeting. I have to behave and focus and nurse one lousy drink!). My mind is mush after this long week. I'm the last one here, so I can gaze upon this big empty building and think of the great Shelley poem, Ozymandius:
I met a traveler from an antique land,Who said--
"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Percy Blysshe Shelley
So what's this have to do with anything? Whenever I witness the arrogance of those who have all the answers, those who speak the very Voice of God, the "frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command," I think of King Ozymandius and his Works.
There aren't despots in our country's history whose monuments are colossal wrecks around which nothing remains, but there are evil ideas and the movements that promoted them. We look at the arrogance of the slavedriver's whip or the Klansman's hood or the burning synagogue and breathe a sad sigh of relief that nothing beside remains.
And yet, white racists burned down a house in Indianapolis just this month because its occupants were African-American. Our city decided not to protect gays and lesbians from employment and housing discrimination. An amendment to the state constitution is pending declaring certain people shall not have the right to pursue happiness in the form of civil marriage.
Eric says: "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
We must not despair. We must fight until "nothing beside remains." Until "round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away."