Not in Our Name

After reading the witness story of a father losing his son today – I froze in my chair, hands in front of my mouth in prayer, tears running down my cheeks, feeling immobile. I know I can’t end this man’s pain and the many others that are mourning entire families due to the siege in Gaza. All I could do was pray that peace would be realized, lotus blossoms would reign down from the sky, the borders no longer blocked but filled with neighbors welcoming those they have feared their entire lives. Yes, a utopian dream but I can’t live in the cynical state that I find myself after reading any and every news article, looking at pictures of death and destruction that leads to hate coming out of my mouth towards the oppressor that serves no one and no cause.

Currently there are 40 wars raging around our globe; children fleeing wars that my nation assisted in and many losing their lives because of the illogical support of human cruelty based on the wobbly foundation of defending one’s own country. What is perplexing is many of those doing the destruction do not look into the eye of their victims, they merely push a button to hit their “target” not acknowledging the human life that ended. The dehumanization is astonishing and I find myself in a dilemma of seeking peace and not demonizing the oppressor. Because the cycle of those that are oppressed —- becoming the oppressor is what we see today. Fear grasping our necks and our wallets. Land infiltrated by overconsumption and destructive attempts to funnel money out of it to fuel our cars (I am guilty) and to let the rich stay on top and those on the bottom to remain.

I’m fearful that this will not end until all of Gaza is destroyed. I have fallen into despair, hopelessness, regret, guilt, cynicism, and complacency.  Yet, I somehow find this tiny strand of a rope that leads me back to the light of optimism, that humans are good, that the world remains a beautiful, enchanted place.  Some days, I let go and fall back into despair but before I’m completely consumed, I reach up and that strand is always there, always present even in the darkest of times.

The massacre occurring in Gaza is piercing my side but from a safe distance – one where my awareness can be turned off by a click of the mouse allowing me to live my life in ignorance. But once you know, don’t you have the obligation to speak up, advocate, do whatever possible to end the violence? There is no unknowing. The violence seeks you at every newsstand – but the tricky thing is that this news can be filtered to continue the propaganda that one life is more precious than the other. This has never and will never be true and I find it disheartening that those of major religions with tenets to love your enemies, give the cloak off your back, do no harm to any being are the loudest voices on the screen calling for the genocide of men, women and children. How can this be and how can we rise out of this dark hole of fear?

I call to my ancestors that screamed from the desks; penning truths, being witnesses, seeking change, and being present in the world. I call to anyone who sees the light in every being, to honor that light through their voices, their choices in spending and how they live their lives. Can we all say, not in our name will violence be allowed and accepted as the appropriate response. Can we all take this pledge: Saul Williams’, Not in Our Name :

Also, please take the time to read this poem by Maya Angelo:

A Brave and Startling Truth
By Maya Angelo

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn and scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world

That is when, and only when

We come to it.


2 thoughts on “Not in Our Name

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