Saturday, June 4, 2011

No Excuse: a meditation on the use of violence

 I would not label myself a pure pacifist.  There are situations in which I know I would fight.  I've been as honest as I can be in writing this poem.  I'm not strong enough to turn the other cheek.  I would fight to protect my loved ones, certainly. The photo is of my grandson, a child so beautiful that my heart breaks when I imagine the world he is inheriting.  He has resources undreamed of, however, and he will find his way to become a compassionate citizen of the world.

 No Excuse

There is no excuse for the agony of the world.
There is no excuse for a single person to be starving.
No excuse for anyone to be without a safe home.
No excuse for children to be frightened of invisible menace.
No excuse, no excuse, no excuse.
Anyone who tells you this killing, this maiming,
this bombing is justified,
is revealing a criminal lack of imagination.
There is no excuse to be without a creative idea,
a new way to solve a problem,
no excuse, no excuse. 
To be mired in the endless slavery
of historical cause and effect
is no excuse.
To be defending one’s self from oppression
is no excuse.
To be reacting to outside danger
is no excuse.
There is never an excuse
to use violence, not even to prevent greater violence.
Using violence always causes greater violence.
No excuse for the weakness of force,
no justification for violence.
We had to stop Hitler, we have to stop Al Qaeda,
is that an excuse?  No.  Is that an explanation?
Perhaps.  Must I live with this explanation?
Must I treat it as a rational solution to any brutality?
Never.  There is no excuse. 
What can I do about this insoluble problem?
I don’t know.  Write poems? 
Do you have any better ideas? 
If you do, and it is not an excuse
for adding agony to the world,
please, please, tell me, tell everyone
right now.  

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