Monday, June 8, 2020

UNTIL THAT DAY... a poem

Sadly, George Floyd is just the latest example in a long history of racial bigotry, discrimination, inequality, and (social) injustice not only here in the United States but around the world as well.
Writer/poet Nancy A. Hansen recently created this free verse in regards to this.


The more things change,
The more they stay the same
Or so we are told
Yet I believe
We actively resist change
Not because it's so damn hard
Not because we prefer the way things are
But because we don’t care to acknowledge
Our complicity in why those changes
Haven’t been made
We go out into the world
With blinders on
So that we don’t see
And inhumanity
We believe it happens somewhere else
To someone else
People we don't know
People who are backward
Or somehow inferior
So that in our minds
That makes it not our fault
We’re not responsible for them
They're not one of our own
Let someone else deal with it

Well I have news for you
There is no 'them'
Only us, because
We are one people
Throughout this entire planet
Made of the same flesh and bone
The same organs and blood
From an ancient but common ancestry
We have similar hopes and dreams
Familiar sorrows and regrets
Identical passions and desires
And we all make mistakes
We speak different languages, but
Laugh and cry in the same voices
Only our physical exterior varies
Along with
What we present to the world
That way we can tell each other apart
Yet inside we are all humankind
Bred and born
Living, loving, hating, and dying
In analogous fashion
And I acknowledge
That there is no 'one size fits all' way of living
No universal laws
No perfect way of being human
We must muddle through
And find our own path
Past differences of opinion
Past clashing ideals
Past all the dogma we've assigned importance
And goose-stepped to
Those artificial concepts of
Race, religion, national boundaries
Those things that divide us
And only come back to bite us
In the toughest of times
When we so desperately need
A sense of unity
Not order enforced by
Martial Law
Theological fervor
And brutal, oppressive tactics
Brow-beating us into submission
For speaking out
Because things have
Still never changed
For some

As the unrest grows
Within the status quo
Of lives plainly devalued
Anger is bound to escalate
In similar ugly ways
Until those voices are heard at last
Screaming in defiance
Or crying out in anguish
Before a backdrop of chaos
And primal anarchy
How many have to suffer before
Their deprivation and deaths overshadow
What little good has been gained?
By ignoring what we don't care to see
Will injustices be forgotten?
Will order then be restored
Because someone insisted
No voices could be raised
In opposition?
Could brotherhood and sisterhood
And good works that improve all lives
Still come from those
Who aren't approved by us?
Must some always be treated
As underclass beings
In order to keep things comfortably as they are?
Where are the lines to be drawn
Betwixt and between
Imaginary 'them' and 'us'?
What side will you be on?
Shall we sit and wait until someone else decides
What our own fate will be?
Cowering in our bunkers
While the situation devolves
Beyond our ability to control
Pointing fingers
And yet never ponder
What went wrong along the way
What lead to this uprising
And how it could have been
Circumvented earlier?

There is a Universal Truth here
That we're all forgetting
Something that will come back
To haunt us repeatedly
Until we take a good look around
And really see for the first time
The ugliness we've been ignoring
That lead up to this outrage
And the marching in the streets
You can't hold people down forever
With a proverbial knee on their neck
Until they can't breathe
And not kill their spirit
Because that creates hostility
That will be returned
Three times as strong
You can't single someone out
Based on external differences
And not expect a retaliation
That is just as vicious
Or as unfeeling
You can't keep allowing this
Not if you expect to have
An orderly society
Or a peaceful life
We only have one world
We only have this incarnation
To make a difference for all
So we need less vitriol
Less walls built
And more than rhetoric
Or hollow campaign promises
To make it a better place to live
We need a solemn vow
An oath that actually means something
Because it is kept
And embraced
We need pledges that aren't pretentious
That evaporate after being said
Once the polls close
And the pipers are all paid
We need to kindle different fires
Flames that don't burn down buildings
And steal away lifetimes of hard work
But warm hearts
So that we can sit together
And cradle the idea
That all can be treated
With the love and dignity
That every human being deserves
So that our descendants may grow up
Next to each other
Without fear and suspicion
Without prejudice and without constantly thinking
Of our differences as much as
Our similarities

And I warn you now
No matter who you are
Or where you live
Until that day
When truth is spoken
When hearts are opened
When minds are made up
And the changes so often promised
Finally come about
Until then...
There will be no peace
On Earth
For any of us

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