What if you can’t do well do good?
What if my electric car
And diligent recycling
Mean less than nothing to
The slave-wage worker
Living in the regime of my despotic desires—
For fizzy sugar water,
For going anywhere, doing anything,
What if my hunger for
Dies the death
Of a profligate sprinkler in heat,
Dies at the feet of those
Whose hunger wells up
From the darkest depths of the sea,
Darker than the poet’s dreams,
Deeper than the biology of sex?
What if you can’t earn market-rate-returns
With market-rate risk
Without harming people and the planet?
What if the hour calls for urgency
Are refusing to do enough
And nonprofits don’t have enough
And for profits can’t do enough
(No, don’t talk to me about double
Or triple-bottom lines;
What investor sacrifices profit for impact?)
No, you can’t do well and do good.
But you can’t do well and do good.
There are no $5 t-shirts,
No $2 hamburgers, no 1,000%
Returns on investment; blind money
Cannot see what horrors trail
In the wake of record profits—
Good only comes from struggle,
Yes, blood, sacrifice, calloused hands;
Now there is the imperative
To convince those with the capital
To change the world
That they can’t do well and do good.
Can the innate desire for justice
Cure the Nasdaq 500 of the notion
That you can do well and do good?
Or will we continue in the idiotic hope
That $350 billion per year in charitable giving
And trillions invested in companies
That are social
Because they track their carbon emissions
And have a diverse board
Is enough to solve climate change,
And the other ills
That accompany a roaring economy,
Soaring stock market,
And historically low rates of unemployment?
I don’t ask you for sainthood.
I myself am no ascetic poet,
No blameless social entrepreneur;
My carbon footprint
Tramples the sanctimony of my ideals.
There is much work to be done.
We know how to get it done—
Let us do it together.
But first let us be honest
And accept that you can’t do well
And do good.
Sunday, June 3, 2018