The Good Fight

Today is election day in Kentucky. Okay, it's not really, today is just the democratic primaries. But I thought it was as good a day as any to share my recently-released poem "The Good Fight." For me as a poet and an artist, at least for now, this is as close as I plan to get to activism or being political with my art.

This poem proposes something different. In fact, I'll bet it's a stance that you don't see very often when it comes to so-called "political" pieces of artwork. Frankly, I think it's a revolutionary idea to start within, to start at home, before considering going "out into the world" to try and evoke change. My rationale here is simple: before we've done at least a little bit of work to wake up to the tricks and schemes of our egos, all of those grand plans that we have - the ones that propel us to venture "out there" to "do good" - can really just become another myriad of sticky, neurotic personal projects. Before we know it, we've found ourselves in a battle...with loved ones, with friends, with our communities. How did that happen?! In short, for many of us, the big intentions that we have to "fight the good fight," while perhaps well-intended, can easily become the minions of ego. And if this happens, the only thing that can result is chaos. If we are not steady and balanced in ourselves, if we haven't done some work to understand our triggers and overcome our neuroses, our work with others and with the world is, at the very best, not going to be as effective as we've been hoping. At worst, the little wars that still rage within our minds and hearts and personalities are going to cause larger, outer wars. "As it is within, so shall it be without," so to speak.

I have always been inspired by a specific quote by Buddhist Master Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. He notes:

"If you want to solve the world’s problems, you must put your own household, your own individual life, in order first. This is somewhat of a paradox. People have a genuine desire to go beyond their individual, cramped lives to benefit the world. But if you do not start at home, then you have no hope of helping the world. So the first step in learning how to rule is learning to rule your household, your immediate world. There is no doubt that, if you do so, then the next step will come naturally. If you fail to do so, then your contribution to this world will be further chaos."

Here is my poem "The Good Fight," for your consideration. It can't be found in Thirsty Camel or any other publication just yet. For the next few weeks, you can find it on display at Berea's Luna Zorro. And after that, well, it'll be up to you to determine if it's going to cause any positive change in your lives or in the world...




The Good Fight


your life is filled with those who

“fight the good fight”

you know just who they are –


once they caught a glimpse

of a Better Way

and have been chasing after it ever since

(while making quite a scene)

on their great crusade

of selflessness



you’re even one of them


i suggest to you

that selfless action

is less cacophonous

and is most effective when it appears

in quieter corners

of our tender, precious lives


if your heart is open

and committed to loving-kindness,

accept this challenge:


to witness the project that you’ve created –

the one that turns good service into

public exhibition


to bravely acknowledge

your willing crucifixions

and martyrdoms in the town square

as subtly self-serving –

not exactly what you had planned

when you first set out

on this quest


perhaps seeing clearly

will shake the foundation

that you’ve worked so hard

to build


but once the flaming sword

cuts through your misconceptions

you will see that

there is a way to serve

that doesn’t begin

with “I”


© 2016 Brandon Thompson