• Paul D. Wilke

Me, Myself, and I



First, we killed God.

This was called progress,

the leaving behind

of childish myths.

God was the product

of the human imagination,

crafted to reflect

our noblest aspirations.

Intellectuals scoffed

at such naïve beliefs.

With God out of the way,

humanity became its own master,

soaring to new heights

but without the chains of dogma

holding it back.

God was but an idea of the infinite

created to give

purpose and meaning

to our finite

existence,

a light to protect us

from the darkness.

Humanity didn't need that rubbish anymore.

Or so we thought.

Now we live and die in soft safety,

with Prozac and Viagra

to keep us going.

Who needs a Higher Power

when people can

indulge themselves

like decadent Greek gods?

There is no darkness

in this better world,

just fast food,

and warm beds,

and free porn,

and mindfulness,

of course,

to keep us centered and forever orbiting

the new and improved Holy Trinity of

me, myself, and I.

Then we cut down the heroes,

banishing them for

their imperfections.

These were our exemplars

of excellence,

hinting at the heights

of human potential.

We knew we could never

be divine,

but we could model ourselves

on the best among us,

those noble souls who guided us to

our better selves.

Our heroes now,

such as they are,

are athletes, entertainers, and self-help gurus,

all one and the same,

ephemeral performers

in this never-ending now.

We no longer accept

claims to human greatness.

What an oxymoron!

How odd to put a mere mortal

on a pedestal,

someone no better

than you or me!

No heroes are allowed

in the Land of the Level

unless they sing,

or dance,

or make tons of money!

But Mammon is not a hero.

Celebrity is not heroic.

I am not either.

What then, I asked

me, myself, and I?

Next, we laughed at the patriots,

turning the love of country

into a crude chauvinism.

We smirked when they spoke of

duty and sacrifice to the nation.

Why?

To what purpose?

To wage wars for Walmart?

For Amazon's bottom line?

Patriotism became the simple man's ideology,

something dim-witted rubes clung to

with their God and guns.

Only fascists and rednecks still got excited about

flags and anthems.

"And anyway,"

the finger-wagging scolds

would solemnly declare,

"what is the nation but a collection of

myths,

lies,

and crimes?

What's to admire?

Throw it all away,"

they demanded,

"it's nothing but another false idol!

Set yourselves free!"

And so we cosmopolitans did,

deconstructing life all the way down to

dead atoms.

Yet nothing

poured in to fill the vacuum but

me, myself, and I.

And then they came for eros,

and still no one raised any objections.

Romantic love became an anachronism,

an emotion only to be indulged vicariously

through television and movies,

those two digital condoms for our souls.

Romance gave way to hedonism,

something ordered off a glowing menu,

swipe right, swipe left,

transient transactions

chasing fleeting pleasures,

forever and ever, amen.

But no ache, not anymore,

the ache of love was gone,

the heat of love's passion too,

and no longing either,

for nothing was left to ache or long for.

We recoil from intimacy,

afraid of committing ourselves

to any enduring loss of

self into another,

forever and ever, amen.

We cripples can't speak love's language anymore

without digital crutches.

Our emotions now only stir

when stirred artificially,

experiencing only mediated emotions

from mediated mediators,

all the way down.

This may be the saddest truth

of them all for

me, myself, and I.

Rest easy,

my dear friends

in the mirror,

it's better this way!

What you've lost,

you've gained in efficiency and comfort.

Who needs the heat of passion

when you have air conditioning?

Why feel anything

when it might hurt?

Just have fun!

And if you don't like it,

take a pill to pretend it's otherwise.

Just be happy!

Or jack into the Matrix

and forget

that you can remember

how it used to be,

or how it could be still.

Just try harder!

Or whatever.

Who gives a damn?

No one is listening anymore

in this digital blinking

world without soul.

No God,

no hero,

no grateful nation,

no eager lover,

nobody,

nothing,

and no one left

but each alone

with headphones on,

and head bowed,

worshiping

me, myself, and I.

The Scream by Edvard Munch - 1893

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