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Tiptoeing Elephants ~ a Poem About Contemporary Society

John is passionate about human and animal rights, social justice, equality, and the environment, and likes to convey that in his writing.

Image by André Santana from Pixabay

Image by André Santana from Pixabay

Is Change Always For the Better, or Can It Go Too Far?

Let me start off with a disclaimer. In writing this poem, I am not condoning prejudice, abuse, trolling, or bigotry in any way. If anyone reads that into what I have written, I am sorry, and the was not my intent.

As a society we must protect, embrace, and treat minorities (of every kind) as equal. Notice that word EQUAL? That means they have the same rights as the majority, no more, no less.

No one should be seen as superior or lesser in an ideal society. That may be a pipe dream, and many people have been suppressed in the past for their gender, race, religion, colour, lifestyle etc. Change was needed in many areas, and in most cases progress has been achieved over time.

However, without targeting a specific group, it seems to me that in recent years the pendulum has begun to swing too far, and some are claiming more rights than they should be entitled. This is actually beginning to seem like they are claiming superiority and making unfair demands on the majority.

One of the clearest examples of this change is in the area of free speech. It seems to me that too many people are jumping on the ”that is offensive to my rights...etc etc” band wagon. This is what the following poem is about.

Tiptoeing Elephants

Why do people take offence

so easily these days?

It seems that almost everything

offends in certain ways.


No matter what is said or done,

written or expressed,

someone somewhere, who knows why,

will be visibly distressed.


There once was something called “free speech”

where opinions could be shared.

Conflicting views were called debates,

feelings respected, but not spared.


Most people, then, could take a joke

and share one in return.

It wasn’t seen as bullying,

and the world was not so stern.


Ethics always seemed quite clear,

don’t be unjustly cruel,

but if you made a dumb remark

you’d be called out as a fool.


Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

People gave their seats to elders,

pregnant women, or the infirmed,

when riding on the train or bus.

an etiquette easily learned.


Men opened doors for women,

and let them enter first.

But chivalry’s now forgotten,

it’s a relic of the past.


When did people grow so soft,

can’t take some joke in jest?

Especially if it’s said in fun

and no insult is meant.


Now almost everything you say

will be dissected word for word

to find something derogatory,

or race or gender slurred.


I don’t know how it came to this,

it’s all just gone too far.

The rules we had in place for years

fell well below this bar.


Some even want to change the text

In classic literature,

so it won’t offend the snowflakes,

so sensitive and pure.


Now, you better take such care,

don’t write that, let it pass,

or someone may take you to court

And sue your sorry ass.


Well, I’m sorry I can’t do that,

wrongs can’t be just ignored.

Society has swung too far.

Too much has been outlawed.


It is a writer’s solemn duty,

to tell the truth he sees.

Inform the lost and blinded

who can’t see the forest for the trees.


Everyone has rights I know,

But not to the extreme

where the majority must tiptoe

like elephants through cream.

Image by S B from Pixabay

Image by S B from Pixabay

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 13, 2020:

Yes, Li-Jen, you said exactly what we must do..find a balance! People should not deliberately insult or belittle people, but we also shouldn’t be so sensitive that everything we don’t agree with upsets us. Thank you for reading, as always.

Li-Jen Hew on December 13, 2020:

Hi Jodah. I am glad you can agree that some cannot take a joke and claim that we must be "politically correct" haha. There should be some balance. I have heard that gone are the days when people can poke fun at someone and the other person doesn't take it too seriously. Thank you for sharing!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 08, 2020:

Thank you for your viewpoint, Jo. I appreciate you sharing your opinion. I agree that you should stand up to insults, and people being patronising.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 07, 2020:

I think it is okay for offensiveness to be called out. We can sometimes make offensive statements because of our upbringing without realizing they are offensive. I'd rather open my own door and be treated with respect than for someone to open my door and then be patronizing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 06, 2020:

Yes the present situation can make things worse because people are on edge. I hope thing improve there soon, Chris. You have a good week. Thanks for reading.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on December 06, 2020:

Being quarantine and the difficult situations right now maybe the reason people are easily to feel offended or they presumed that everything is about them haha, may we find peace of mind in times of adversities or what ever it is. Enjoy the rest of the weekend Sir John ;-)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Thank you for reading, Fam. I am glad you could appreciate the topic.

Fam on December 04, 2020:

A nice piece of your poetic thoughts Hessen! You've wrapped the bitter reality on the subject of faded mannerism, freedom of speech and tolerance in mild words. I appreciate it.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Manatita, when I read your piece I also saw a commonality in subject. I see this happen a lot where there is a topic that needs addressing or message that must be spread.

Love, prayer, and a contrite heart...so true. Thank you bro.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Linda, I even had to choose my words very carefully writing this, so as not to go overboard. If it was a piece of prose or an essay I may have. Fortunately with poetry you can somewhat disguise your message so it isn’t so ’in your face’ I guess. I also wish you could use bold and italics in comments. Yes, unfortunately the problem is world wide. Hopefully, things can only go so far before common sense kicks back in.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Thank you for your kind words and great comment, Brenda. You said it all. It seems we have to tiptoe all the time in case we offend someone while losing our own ”freedom” of expression or opinion.

manatita44 from london on December 04, 2020:

John I'm familiar with this Amendment thing too. It comes up a lot! The funny thing, is that some actually crush you, while talking about Freedom, leaving a dark stain on their Heart and probably going away with the pain, hoping they'll recover. No one can recover without Love, prayer and a contrite Heart. Amendment or no Amendment!

Linda L, seem to think our last piece is similar. I'm saying in very subtle ways, that each soul has to fight his own demons. Nevertheless, you express what seems an everyday problem quite well and great poetry too. Peace.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2020:

John, sitting in my little corner of the planet, I thought this was just a problem in the United States. Now, you tell me it's worldwide. Ohgoodgrief! How ever did we get here?

I remember when we could agree to disagree. I remember when that elephant didn't need to tiptoe on eggshells, when we didn't have to carefully, ever so carefully choose absolutely EVERY word. (I just used all caps because there is no way to bold or underline in comments, but I probably just triggered someone, didn't I?)

Thank you for using humor and your wonderful way with words to get across a so very important topic.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 04, 2020:

John,

This is a powerful peace. I love this part...

It is a writer’s solemn duty,

to tell the truth he sees.

Inform the lost and blinded

who can’t see the forest for the trees.

Today has changed so much that I don't think we can see the forest before the trees.

I don't know where chivalry went, but I muss it. Today's young kids seem to have no respect for elders...or older people.

I guess I'm in that category now since I will be 60.

I cannot believe the NFL plays two national anthems...the other one is black lives matter anthem which to me All Lives Matter.

Yes, I know I am one of them. But to me and my God. .we are all alike.

What happened years ago was not my doing so don't punish me for their errors in judgment.

People today disagree on lots of things. It even breaks up households.

Nothing is sacred like it uses to be back in thd good ole days.

Great writing my friend.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

I hate hearing the phrase, ”It is my constitutional right!” it seems a lot of people are looking for reasons to hate when they should be instead looking for reasons not to. Thanks Bill.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Hi Pamela. I can’t believe how it got to this stage where everyone is walking on eggshell in case they offend someone accidentally. Yes, it also seems that friends are expected to agree on every issue.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 04, 2020:

I love our Constitution, but I swear, if I hear one more person spew hatred and then say it's their Constitutional right, I'm going to vomit. Hate is never a right which should be exercised.

Love the imagery, my friend.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 04, 2020:

I really think your poem expressed what many of us are thinking right now. Things have gotten so crazy. I do not understand why two people can't disagree, discuss and still be friends. I love your image of the elephants also.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Great to get your comment, Ann, and I was quite sure you would be in the same boat or agreement. Yes, it is a sad day we have to forgo our terms of affection for our fellow men and women. Here there is healthy competition between States. Queensland's call New South Welsh cockroaches, and they call us came toads for instance. Yes, ”whinging Pommies” POHM I be correct...Prisoners of His Majesty...so rey referred convicts and by default Australians, so somewhere that as mixed up. And it was usually said as affectionate banter.

I am sick of hearing about some of the rubbish going on at the moment, and people too afraid to speak up..so I felt the need. Thank you for your support. Take care.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 04, 2020:

I love the image of 'elephants tiptoeing through cream'!

I couldn't agree more. So many jump on the 'it's my right' bandwagon and so many can't take criticism without lashing out, instead of considering, discussing. We can't help what our ancestors said or did; many were acting in good faith. Cutting out or changing history is madness - it happened so we can't deny it. We can learn from it and make the world better of course.

We used to be able to call a Scotsman 'Jock', a Welshman 'Taffy', an Irishman 'Paddy' and an Englishman is still referred to as 'a POHM' by the Ozzies (sorry, Australians!), or even 'a pommy bastard'! All of those were mostly affectionate terms, said with a smile or a twinkle in the eye. If they're said with malice, then that's a different story, but we are able to tell the difference.

Thanks for having the guts to stand up and be counted, John. I'm right behind you on this one.

Ann

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Thank you for reading ad sharing your thoughts, Rosina. Much appreciated.

Rosina S Khan on December 04, 2020:

I think this is a very good poem to ponder and reflect, John. The people in the society who have rights and those who think their rights and ethics to be extreme are well worth considering. Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 04, 2020:

Yes, Lora, you make some very valid points. Especially taking offence at the words of famous authors from the past who were only representing the mindset and dialogue of a different time. Creativity and artistic expression is certainly at risk. Thank you for reading.

Lora Hollings on December 03, 2020:

This is a very good poem, John, as you raise some excellent points about words being taken out of context or far too seriously. When people become so concerned about stepping on the toes of others, can we really have an open and honest discussion? If we don't feel free to be spontaneous and have to carefully measure out all of our words, does this not infringe upon our freedom? I think there might be a paradox here. Books written by great authors who were only showing the mindset of a particular time but yet contain profound insights and truths about humanity (which can teach some valuable lessons) have been banned due to people taking them out of context. I think we have gone too far and in the process of being so careful about stepping on someone's toes, we are giving up some of our creativity and freedom of speech.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

Liz, I am glad your thoughts echo mine also. I am glad you feel I managed to keep my argument balanced and fair. Thank you for reading as always.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

Thank you for reading this poem and adding your thoughts, Chitrangada. It is a sad state of affairs when the majority has to change their ways to suit the extreme minority.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

That was exactly my point, Nithya..thank you for reading.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 03, 2020:

You have struck a chord with this brave poem, echoing thoughts and feelings that many share, but sadly are these days afraid to voice. You make valid points in a polite and balanced way in this excellent poem.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 03, 2020:

Nice and thoughtful poem. I agree with you John, that sometimes people take undue advantages of their rights and privileges. It is happening everywhere.

Sadly, it’s the majority, which suffers most of the time.

Thank you for highlighting this topic, through your well crafted poem.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on December 03, 2020:

A great poem, wisdom in your words. Nowadays we must be careful what we say and how we say it because it can be twisted and turned to extremes.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

I totally agree, Flourish. There is art in delivering a message with grace and elegance. Thank you for reading.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 03, 2020:

I’m not for censorship at all. At the same time people should pay more attention to the elegance and grace of how they deliver their message.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy. ”The good old days” is an overused cliche...but they were.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 03, 2020:

I agree with Linda Crampton. This is a very thought-provoking poem. I would like a return to the days when

"People gave their seats to elders,

pregnant women, or the infirmed,

when riding on the train or bus.

an etiquette easily learned.

Men opened doors for women,

and let them enter first.

But chivalry’s now forgotten,

it’s a relic of the past."

Nothing wrong with those days!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

Hi Linda, I am glad you found this poem interesting and thought-provoking. That was my intention so I am very satisfied.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on December 03, 2020:

Thank you for supporting my stand, Umesh. I appreciate you reading and leaving a positive comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2020:

You've created a thought-provoking article and poem, John. It was interesting to read. Thank you for raising some very good points.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 03, 2020:

This is a beautiful poem. Actually only those feel offended who have done something wrong or committed crime or some other unlawful activity. I have seen people reacting.