In the decade since I wrote this poem, casualties have needlessly run into hundreds of thousands of lives
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.
It is apparent that those who have embraced orchestrated violence as the leading way to try to end violence are increasingly becoming the very thing they hate—addicted to and purveyors of needless violence and killing. Even as President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize he justified a continuation of Bush war policies with only mild modifications. The seduction continues.
I thought of my poem again over the Memorial Day holiday as some would-be zealous patriots exalted militarism as the essence of what it means to be free on a day originally and distinctly set aside to humbly honor all who have died and whose loved ones have been forever disrupted by the devastation war leaves in its wake.