Let’s treat everybody like they’re their own country.
I will be the nation of Robertstan, a monarchy.
My people will think their king is a philosopher
and will extort from them all their hard labor.
With other countries we shall maintain relations
as a delegate in the house of an United Nations.
We shall voice our thoughts as the concerns of a people
proud in character, sober in the law, and spiritual
in the convictions of fellowship and camaraderie.
And we shall recognize our neighbors, our boundary
north and west, south and east, for their peoples too
are like tapestries of intersecting history made new
every third generation, in revolution for some cause
dear to their heart, or in duty upholding their laws.
We shall deal with one another most diplomatically,
exchanging ambassadors, erecting our embassy,
imparting gifts of ancestral sentiment, earthenware
from my dynasty, from you a statue for my square.
We shall learn from each other as one studies a culture
admiring its milestones, its monuments that endure
great upheavals, achievements recorded in annals.
We shall entertain customs and open new channels,
trade in our mutual prosperity, swap beloved recipes,
perhaps even war shamefully, and spread disease.
Perhaps we may rise up out of arrogance or injury
not knowing ourselves or who we would like to be.
Perhaps we will tear ourselves apart in civil war
and fleeing destruction, overstep our shared border.
Would you offer shelter then, impoverished as we are,
or with diffidence or austerity review us from afar?
Would you posture and prevaricate your dismissal
maintaining both positions official and unofficial?
Or would you come to find your people and mine
our modus vivendi has circumscribed another line
around us both, that we are really half of each other
living under the same roof, without another?
Artwork: Rush Hour Traffic on the National Road – Rudolf von Alt (1850)