We live in very interesting and painful times. But lest we think that this is only true today, let’s not be naive. Two poems in the poetry collection At The Edge of Things (1979) are being posted this week to remind us that, time and again, we’ve been through very interesting and painful times. Sometimes we remember, sometimes we forget, sometimes we learn, sometimes we don’t. And the world continues to twirl on its axis, at times in a song and dance to lull us into getting comfortable, and at other times, like a top to send us spinning on tenterhooks.
The poems: ‘The Fish of the Current’ and ‘Prime Time’ were written in 1978 at the time of the Cold War when the Western Bloc led by the United States of America (USA) were locked in geopolitical maneuverings against the Eastern Bloc led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
The Cold War was a struggle between the ideologies of democracy and capitalism, on one hand, and communism and socialism, on the other hand, each side trying to preserve and as well extend its influence across turfs and borders around the globe. Certain regions of the world felt the grinding effects of the Cold War more acutely than others, mainly due to their strategic locations at the front lines or as choke points: the peoples of Germany and Italy felt both sandwiched and torn between the ideologies of Western Europe and Eastern Europe, from up the North Sea down to the Mediterranean Sea; the Latin American countries straddling the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans witnessed great turmoil and suffering as proxy battles of the Cold War were waged in their territories; and, the countries surrounding China in the East China Sea and South China Sea endured ideological divisions and deadly conflicts among their populations. The Cold War was said to have thawed in the later part of the 1980s, brought about by the USSR’s perestroika reforms, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and was supposed to have finally ended with the dissolution of the USSR in the early 1990s. However, with the tensions again rising between the former states of the USSR led by Russia on one side, and the western countries of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the USA on the other side, over a wide stretch of globe from Crimea to Ukraine to Syria to the so-called pivot to Asia, it seems that the Cold War is re-emerging in the 21st Century.
Many are now uncertain whether the Cold War ever really ended. But one thing is certain: regardless of any ideological war blowing hot or cold, geopolitical maneuverings and the jockeying for wealth and hegemony among world powers have never ceased, whether overt or covert, much like ocean currents constantly moving and shaking the high seas on the surface and under. And the fish that braves the current finds itself at the mercy of the churning seas.
– Sand Stars Journal, 19 Nov. 2016
Further readings with respect to the relevance of this topic to current Philippine politics: