1st place: Unanswered questions
This piece was written for the Green Office’s Spring Poetry competition, on the theme: Environmental Guilt, which took place between the months of April-May 2022. The following poem placed 1st.
People would describe me as eco-green
And I would lie if that wasn’t how I love to be seen
Ordering vegan food in an organic bar,
Taking the train, not a plane, when not traveling far,
Using reusable cups and buying second hand
But that’s not the whole story, listen my friend.
A giant challenge for humanity,
With many things that are not how they are supposed to be,
which is where the struggle starts if you ask me.
I support individual efforts, don’t get me wrong,
But then I wonder isn’t the system too strong?
Holding us tight in its capitalist grip,
And this is when my hopes start to slip.
How much self-determined action is left to me?
And will my reusable cup save our society?
Probably not, is the answer to the latter,
But resignation does not feel any inch better.
And while the climate crisis is accelerating faster and faster,
I feel ego-centric with my own disaster,
Contemplating if my actions can make a difference after all
Is the moment when inner guilt begins to sprawl
With polar ice melting, and forests burning,
There are so many events that I find concerning,
So, isn’t it my responsibility to change the system as conclusion?
Provided that system change is more than a sad illusion.
Knowing these circumstances obligates to act,
On top of that, I’m privileged, I cannot change this fact,
If I am not fighting for the environment, of whom else could I expect it from?
I should dedicate my life to it, or am I being dumb?
But how much weight can I ask myself to carry?
Bearing great responsibility is just so scary,
On the other hand, I shouldn’t be complaining,
Many life realities are certainly more draining.
I mean, I can still go out and silent my fears by dancing and drinking,
while somewhere else chances for a livable future are continuously shrinking,
I am not exposed to extreme weather events yet,
It’s my conscious decision when I’m dealing with environmental threat
Am I allowed to have this choice or is it just unfair?
Can I laugh and have fun, or must I show more despair?
Is it wrong when I am not constantly on a mission but also take breaks?
And how forgiving can I be with my own mistakes?
These questions abound and won’t let me rest,
No clue how I can ever get them off my chest.
As long as they are remaining unanswered inside of me,
I cannot tell how guilty I am or might be.
Having many emotions related to guilt is what I certainly know,
And they’ll follow my way, wherever I go.
So, I acknowledge them and keep on trying my best,
Forming part of my identity to be on this quest.