Monday, October 8, 2007

IF WE MUST USE VIOLENCE

THE SEDUCTION IS NEARLY COMPLETE. I wrote this poem in November 2001, in the wake of our President's vow to use violence to avenge the loss of lives on 9/11 and to attempt to achieve justice and security with an all-out a war on terrorism. I thought of it again as news surfaced late last week about more Department of Justice memos directing American intelligence officers to exact information from detainees by specific acts of torture. It is apparent that those who have embraced violence as a way to try to end violence are becoming the very thing they hate. The seduction is nearly complete. The President's public justifications now mimic the Gestapo's rationalizations offered at Nuremberg. And to think America was supposed to show a better way.


If we must use violence
In our pursuit of justice
Let us not celebrate it.

Let us not revel in our ability
To destroy the earth
And its creatures.

If we must kill to preserve freedom
Let us know that our debt to the fallen,
Even to our enemies’ blood
And to their children’s children,
Binds us anew.

If we must use violence
In the name of God
Let us cry out for heaven’s mercy
Even as we presume God’s blessing
And act for reconciliation
Even as we engage conflict.

Lest violence seduce us completely,
Its shadows claim our souls
And might become the
Hollow foundation of right,
Let us renounce it now
And spend our lives for peace.

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