The High Road

My writer friends and friends not writers  have  raised  this issue of what it means to ‘take the High Road’.  It’s particularly sharp right now, and full of temptations, but getting clarity will serve well for  later.  Always these damn learning curves….

Perhaps it’s not such a universally ‘set’ concept, because I am getting different opinions.

On one website, this concept of ‘high road’ perhaps stretches what we usually think of high road.   You fight tit for tat, except this particular person has no tits.  Do you use names? Do you use similar tactics however distasteful or demeaning?

There have been saints and scoundrels at every point in history.  Saints understand some important things that scoundrels never do.  If we share the correct insights we’ll gain motivation to resist temptations to lure us off the high road of ethical actions.

And perhaps that is what ‘high road’ is: part of ethics.  Which is broad but also fundamental to how we function in a civil society.

It’s my friends who keep me on the high road, who tell me “you absolutely did the right thing by not responding to this person in kind.  By ignoring him, you (probably infuriated him, which is also cool) you showed that you are the stronger and better person.”

But I don’t want to be the stronger and better person, I want a person I once respected to BE  a better person. But people tell me this is an illusion and don’t hold my breath.


Lady Nyo


Asking directions of the high road,
I got shrugs and blank stares
yet knew there were two roads
both led into infinity
both coursed through
all manner of life with pitfalls, trenches
where legs were broken
skulls rattled loose from moorings
like ships in high winds, dangerous waters.

What was the difference then
and why should it matter?
The efforts cost
energy  regardless the choosing.

An old man sat at the crossroads,
a bum, grizzled gray hair
sprouting porcupine’s quills upon his face
rheumy, pale eyes staring out on the world–
showing little interest in what passed by.

I asked him the way to the High Road
and with a toothless grin
he stared at my feet, my hands,
lifted his eyes to my face.
I thought him mad and cursed myself
(asking questions of  a fool!)
was moving away when I heard his voice:

“Did I know of the eagle and crow,
how they soared upon thermals
higher and higher
became dark, formless specks upon a limitless sky,
lost to human eye, invisible even to gods?”

I thought him crazed and started away,
he cackled and spat on the ground.
Something made me turn, startled,
the wisdom of Solomon in his
now- shining eyes.

“The crow harries the eagle, the eagle flies higher.
Vengeful, annoying crow flies round eagle’s wing
turning this way and that, yet the eagle flaps upward
soars upon thinning air until the crow
breathless and spent, drops to the common ground-
falls to his death.”

“The High Road, the path of the eagle.
The low road, the path of the crow,
mingling with dullards
daring nothing, with eyes cast downward
only saving a bit of energy
learning nothing of worth.”

He sat now, a tired old man
eyes glazed with age and fatigue
a nod to his wisdom, a toss of a coin
I gathered my strength and pushed onward,
Upwards, the lift of eagles under my limbs.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2009

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2 Responses to “The High Road”

  1. Susan Says:

    Great poem, Lady Nyo and full of great wisdom. As much as we want to strike out and how good we imagine it feels, taking the high road leaves us intact. We give them nothing, and they eventually realize their impotence. They are wasting energy on you, not the other way around.



  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Susan…

    You better believe that this was a hard one. I wanted to answer slings and arrows….and ‘set the record straight’…but audiences differ…and what would be the point of it all? It gives an ‘off’ idea of ‘power exchange’. LOL!

    Learning this stuff is too up front and personal. Better to press your point in more distant ways.

    And any imagining how good it will feel, is sure to be followed by guilt. There is only a approximation of the High Road…trying to understand this, but the poem is better than the practice, unfortunately.

    Just to serve as a warning….I have been reading Martin Buber and Erich Fromm. I am sopping up this argument about ‘what is evil’? It’s not DIRECTED at anyone, even though it probably will be seen as that by some. It’s a much broader argument than with anyone I have come across. Really. And thankfully.

    However, coming across M.Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil” has raised some important issues. I intend to read these authors and others to formulate an entry for next week.

    The High Road concept will be in there….I just am swamped with thoughts that are so fundamental to the issue of actualizing the best of our humanity, I can’t get it all organized right now. Some entries are easy, because they are based on personal experience. Others are much more distanced by philosophy and history.

    A big and beautiful world out there, Susan.

    Thank you so much for reading and posting here.



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