A note on the overemphasis of individuality

Emily Rodriguez, Academy Poet

Stand for something, they said.
Only cowards can be talked out of an idea.
A man should be rock; strong, solid.
The sentiment flows from the mouths
of teachers, priests, friends,
and the advice of strangers.
Surround yourself with the stone of
sidewalks, tombs, and strong argument
and your individuality will be preserved.
You will be your own.
And yet, I hear of places where men
should be bamboo; where we are
each an essential, wonderfully unique
member of one Singularity.
Where you needn’t surround your opinions
with sharp stones; they are simply
beautifully painted fragments;
valuable, but less so alone.
Bamboo bends, but does not break.
I once heard from a man
whose favorite word is ‘together’
that the truth resists simplicity.
There is nothing more complex
than a statement entirely, all-encompassingly
true.
We each have segments; pieces
of the full picture we’re told to consider the entirety of;
our minds simply cannot comprehend
the vastness of the superficially mundane.
Perhaps it’s for the better; were it not
for our individual fragmentation, we would
have no need to trust.
I would rather be a stalk of bamboo swaying uniquely
among my friends
than a rock scolding pebbles
for not being solid enough.

Bamboo bends, but does not break.
Symbiosis is not the same as Assimilation
and not all china fragments are the same.
There (have been, are, will be) many days
when the voices of the collective
All blend and water down
And all the intelligence possessed by the individual
Gives way to the irrationality of `public opinion.’

In these cases,
Sometimes
A well placed piece of flint
has the power
To do with the bamboo
As it pleases.