Why I Don’t


Watching or reading what they call the news
Puts the tiny blur of politics
Undeservedly centre stage

And time will pass – or we will pass through time
And old puns lose topicality
Or else be missed entirely

Watching or reading what they call the news
Is a part of popular culture
You might say: “the people’s culture”

And time will pass – or we will pass through time
Though probably only just scrape through
As revision’s out of fashion

In a culture – if you can call it that
That treats today as an ashtray, poor
Yesterday like a soiled tissue

That yesterday in which at last my dad
Was released from the war and came home
As hopeful as the Welfare State

And read the Mirror because he believed
It spoke for and to the working man
Had values and stood for something

These days my mother reads the dreary Mail
The Mirror – shameless, lobotomised
Laps at the gutter with the Sun

And who now recalls the year the party
Saw their vote for disarmament squashed
By their own elected leaders?

The rule of democracy – after all
Being useful only just as long
As people vote the way you want

Once in power you can do as you like
I couldn’t accept that even then
And come to think of it still can’t

But the world of politics – after all
Is one of those areas in which
Any fool can point out what’s wrong

And you’re a fool of a whole other kind
To think you can even imagine
Still less define what might be right

Yet there are times when I know there’s something
That can be embodied in our lives
And can inform the way we act

‘Cos politics is our use of power
In accord with the values we hold
And doesn’t require that we vote

Of what use to man or beast – after all
The options on an all meat menu
To a strict vegetarian?

The world is not to be found in a box
Or between the pages of a rag
It’s before our eyes day by day

Watching or reading what they call the news
Caveat emptor … smoke and mirrors
A weapon of mass distraction

OK, so this was written in 2005, and also refers to events from the fifties, but – sadly – it has no less relevance in 2011. But the House of Lords’s decision on the NHS “reform” bill brought it to mind.

Beware the use of the word “reform”.

“Socrates said, ‘The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.’ He wasn’t talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.”

Sorry, I couldn’t fathom out who originally penned these sentences. I can only hope (s)he is happy to see them broadcast further.

About Ben Naga

The Spirit that graces me with its passing has no name and stems not from thoughts and words, though it gathers them up as it flows, but from feeling.

Posted on July 7, 2012, in Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the link to here Ben,

    Although I don’t have it all figured out (yet), this post helps me to make a little more sense out of my action or inaction with certain events in this current world..


    I agree with Socrates, hence the painting rather than writing these days..


    Liked by 1 person

    • Take care, Jackie. Remember what happened to Socrates, πŸ˜›

      If you want any help with the historical references, U.K. slang, bad puns etc. do feel free to ask.


  3. That Ursula K. Le Guin knew what he was speaking of for sure…loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great poem, Ben. It captures the mood of times past and present very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. this is truth
    nicely penned…

    who needs the news anyway?
    there’s cable..
    ha, ha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to feel guilty for not “keeping up” with the news. But decided I preferred to keep up with my mental wellbeing instead.
    Great quote from Ursula Le Guin (if it is her). Which reminds me, must finish the Earthsea quartet πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” But decided I preferred to keep up with my mental wellbeing instead.”

      Sound move!

      You may well know, but there’s also an animated version, “Tales From Earthsea”. Your children (too πŸ™‚ )?


  7. Ben this is a wonderful poem, It holds so many truths.. Many thanks for sharing it with me Ben..
    Sue πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you found it worth reading. It seemed to be relevant to what you were saying, and be your kind of thing. πŸ™‚ (And can I ask if you got the “tiny blur” wordplay? I’ve always been fond of it but as the years slip by I fear it will become easier for it not to register.)


  8. I had to come back and re read Ben to see where it came in, and Yes right at the Beginning πŸ™‚ and now you mention it, I understand its double meaning πŸ™‚ ..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Ben Naga and commented:

    Sadly remains no less relevant.


  10. I seldom watch the news, but I listen to our NPR and sometimes the BBC, too, and read “real” newspapers–because I do think it’s important to be informed. But then, there are times when I need to not hear or read anymore. And yes, definitely caveat emptor. There are too many people who don’t know how to see or read beyond soundbites and politicians’ glib (or fighting) words.

    Here’s a source for your quotation. http://www.ursulakleguin.com/WordsYoungWriter.html
    I like what she says about language.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. And re-reading your poem today from when you published it here in 2012, all these years later it still holds true Ben..
    Sending thoughts and why I keep trying to avoid the news and I do not read newspapers any more.. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sadly it’s still relevant in 2019. Beautifully put, you could add a verse or two now about the worst evil of all social media.πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    • “you could add a verse or two now about the worst evil of all social media.”

      It probably speaks for itself. πŸ˜‰ But then OTOH without it you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation would we? …

      I’ve always liked:

      “Of what use to man or beast – after all
      The options on an all meat menu
      To a strict vegetarian?”

      And did you spot the sly dig to the ever smug Mr Blair?


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