The Agonist Journal

Lack of Self-Direction

A major source for their dejection
Is lack of inner self-direction.
Too many people get the blues
Obsessing about their neighbors’ views.
They cannot bear the isolation
Of living without mass approbation.
Being devoid of inner guidance
They have no shred of self-reliance,
But worry and fret like ad execs
Anxious to learn the market specs
For anything they do or say
Whether at home or work or play.
Desperate to be in the mainstream,
They’re slaves to popular esteem.
They don’t see that intrinsic worth
Isn’t affected by a dearth
Of those who recognize its price—
Value’s not set by throwing dice.
Think of the French aristocrat
Who looked on the howling mob, and spat.
Though they were soon to take his head,
He knew that he was—alive or dead—
Worth more than the whole damned crowd.
He walked to that blade with head unbowed,
Uttered his prayers la dernière fois,
And shouted a brazen Vive le Roi!
What did he care for greasy mobs
Of Jacobin dregs and low-life slobs?
Worth you may earn, or worth inherit,
But changing opinions don’t change merit.
This man, although a bit quixotic,
Gave not a damn for things demotic.
He had that pert, insouciant sneer
Lacking in every marketeer
Who worries about the fleeting humors
Of the great herd of dumb consumers.
Only a mercenary minion
Concerns himself with mass opinion.

                                             —from A Gallery of Ethopaths