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The Cold Within

The poem below reminds me of an accusation I had to deal with late last year. I was accused by a woman that because I was a man, I would never be able to empathize with a woman regarding labor. While I agree that I will never EXPERIENCE labor (I was there for both our children's births, however) to claim that I can never EMPATHIZE labor is the attitude described below. When we are convinced that those that are different from us can never understand us, we divide ourselves, and I think, foolishly. To claim that 'outsiders' can never understand us is a very lonely and destructive path to take.

Six humans trapped by happenstance
in bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
but a white man held his back.
For of the faces round the fire
he noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way
saw one not of his church.
And couldn't bring himself to give
the fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes
he gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
of the wealth he had in store.
And how to keep what he had earned
from the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge
as the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stack of wood
was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
did naught except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death's still hand
was proof of human sin.
They did not die from the cold outside
they died from the cold within.

- by Jay Patrick Kinney