Coffee, Identity Crisis, and Poetry
5 Aug 2020

Coffee, Identity Crisis, and Poetry

Post by Barry Nalley

As I’m sitting and drinking my third cup of coffee this morning, I realize, while listening to the news in the background, that I may not be who I think I am… I hear the “BLM’ers”, and the “ANTIFA hawkers”, and some “Squad”, all telling me what I must think like to be as good as they are… Hmmm…   and… I’m almost ready to have an early Scotch to smooth out the roughened edges of my mind…

I think that WE are a PeopleWE are notSheeple.

We, as a nation of individuals, can think for ourselves.   And, thinking for myself, and deciding on my own what is right or not… rather than depending on some “Elitist group of PC minded Pecker-Heads” to tell me to (Mimic) think like them in order to be acceptable…    heh!…       …be like… Them?     Well… As I stare into my good cup of coffee, I just can’t read that in the leaves of steam & aroma spinning off of its’ surface. I choose, rather to think for myself!

WE are people, individuals, self-motivated individualists, who come together to find what’s best for US, as a whole nation. We do NOT need to be told by elitists what to think, and how to act.    How well is that working out for those “City Leaders” who’ve chosen that path??

We have, as both Individuals and as a free nation, an identity! We try to do what is right, and right what is wrong!     We do this as a free nation of free-thinkers… Not as a mindless mass, run by elitist organizations, who pretend to know what’s best for us.

The type of government and exercise of justice we’ve chosen may be imperfect but is necessary.    We need to recognize that ‘human equality’ is divinely mandated; otherwise the idea of equality before the law and its application for all who come under it, will be subject to ‘situational rationalizations’ of persons within and of societies…  Divinely mandated; what G-d sets forth as the model for right living, behavior, and consequence is  “immutable on the ‘first’ to the ‘last’ day in its application.”

Our forefathers and designers of our Constitution understood that and used G-d’s Written Word to help set up our system of justice, government, and reasonable expectation for individual liberties:

Isaiah 33:22 as the basic concept for three branches of government –

Jeremiah 17:9 as the basis for the idea of separation of powers –

Ezra 7:24 as the model for tax exemption for churches.

Sir Wm Blackstone’s “Commentaries on the Laws of England” and his philosophical writing were used to help frame the U.S. Constitutional writings and Laws, and  The heart of his works is the Ten Commandments and the foundation for his writings is the Word of G-d.

Blackstone’s idea that man’s duty in creating law for society was to follow G-d’s instructions and to “Command what is right and prohibit what is wrong.”

Proverbs 29:4 Informs us that through justice we find stability for a country, then in verse 26 lets us know that it is from  “… the Lord that we get justice

Psalm 119:137 -144  Emphasizes that G-d’s instructions for us are absolutely “…trustworthy” and “forever right”; we can’t go wrong by carefully following His example for government in pursuit of a just way in life.

We can’t make proper determination of what is equitable for all, for both living and administration, within a society without an anchor, something which gives us a stable platform for a consistent, equal, and fair-to-all determination for administering justice in any society.  We have, as Americans, an Identity, and our identity is based on wonderful principles of equality before the Law for all, and ideals of justice meant for all.

We don’t need to change those principled documents. We DO need to make sure the application of those principles is indeed equally applied, and that is a way that is more direct, and more efficient than  “…burning it all down.”  

WE are a Nation of United Individualists who want what is best for US, all together!   As a nation united in our reach for a better society for all we are 244 years old, and still, it seems, have a bit more to do in reaching for sensible maturity…

“I’ve learned-

that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had

and what you’ve learned from them

and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.”


Who am I?… Who are you?… Who are we?     Our military I.D., our drivers license, University student card, or even mug shots gives a physical snapshot of who we might be, but it never offers a full identity.

Using descriptive or historical writings could perhaps show the growth and development of our national identity, but because of the nature of those writings, it seems to me, like picture identification,  to be constricted to a physical plane…

Poetry, on the other hand, allows us to ‘see’ more of the emotional and spiritual side of its authors which might convey more to us about who, not just what, we are.    Poetry can show within its parameters more of the intimate, more of the sense of feeling, and identifies more of the national culture and consciousness… and therein lies the sense of our identify.

The poet, it seems, speaks for the community and not just for themselves, and when speaking for themselves, actually reflect the values, ideals and social mores of the surrounding community. The poet is a “product” of environment, and each American poet’s expressive ability reflects the inherent adaptability and the identity, of US, as Americans.

Anne Bradstreet came to America in approximately 1630 (age 16), and settled with her husband into life at the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was already working to develop her abilities as a poet, and may have reflected a lot of the ‘styles’ of some of the English and European poets, but her writings after the first publishing more clearly show the seeds of the American identity taking root.   These people were Puritans.   They came to the colonies for a reason… freedom, but not just that.   It was because they wanted freedom to express themselves, and to explore in their own way.  This exploration we can see in Anne Bradstreet’s writing, even more in her autobiography published after her death.   In it she spoke frankly about her doubts on the truth, or as she put it, the “verity of the Scriptures,” and her perplexity that things did not always go right in her life. She wrote straightforwardly about her ups and downs during those times. She recognized that ‘seeing and believing’ were separate parts to the whole person, and saw nothing wrong in enjoying and expecting pleasure in life while separately worshiping G-d. She wasn’t so much a metaphysical poet as perhaps a spiritual person who was unafraid of experiencing physical pleasure. When the Puritans first arrived in America, many of them saw the land as a wilderness, and it was… As they cleared the land, they found that it had a verdant richness that made it a paradise, but it was one that they’d have to build.   Part of the development would have to be through the changing of thought processes, and there were more than just physical barriers to overcome.  As America grew, it was becoming less dependent on outside influence, and in many ways, had been proving to be self-sufficient. Our writers were being recognized more for their personal skills in using the written word, and were demonstrating more and more their fierce independence and individuality.

Ben Franklin, while not a poet, stands as a writer and an excellent example of growing independence of the American spirit. We can look at the intertwining of religious belief and practical nature of Ben franklin to see where the American identify was headed. Franklin, in his letter to Ezra Stiles, a minister and 7th President of Yale, laid it out clearly, “I believe in G-d… He governs by His providence… He ought to be worshipped… The most acceptable service we can render is doing good to His other children… the soul… will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.

Ben franklin’s philosophy was simple—there was no intertwining of religion and politics. He knew how to live and worship freely without fear of the ‘Minister,’ and with no intervening power between him and his G-d. He was living as an independent free-thinking being, able to partake of life’s pleasures and woes on their own merit.

So far we can see the American image as questioning, fiercely independent and straight-forward. The average American was also something else… Equal!  As is written in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “IF” ,… the ‘American’ could “walk with Kings” … “and not lose the common touch”… as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson did.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is an excellent example of the maturing American identity.   He was “…respectable, conventional, a family man and a decent solid citizen”…recognized as an excellent poet-philosopher. In his own words referencing his ability, Emerson said, “I am a poet, of low class without a doubt, yet a poet!….”

Emerson was self-reliant, and in that sense we can again see the American spirit and identity, and it is this that identifies US.

Free.    Equal.    Common.    Independent.    Self-reliant.    And… Like Emily Dickinson…     Private

I’m a nobody…Who are you? Are you a nobody, too? Shhh… don’t tell… they’d banish us you know. How dreary… like a frog… to shout… your name the live long day… to an admiring…bog.

And able to laugh at ourselves.