Forward Note: I don’t know how to get it all right in this life. I am a very imperfect human. I think the journey towards “rightness”, although impossible to fully achieve because we live in a broken world, looks different for everyone depending on who you are, your circumstances, your passions, and areas of giftedness. But I’m learning to love in new ways, ways that I was not accustomed to before. This poem is a product of processing feelings that I still don’t quite have a handle on, but with God’s grace I am learning and stretching myself- to open my eyes and heart in an awareness of the world and tragedies happening around me and to speak up- an introvert’s worst nightmare, but not at all an excuse.
This history we know, textbook stories mostly, lectures that end with fill in the blank questions
Taking the tests while apathy floats through the air, nary a whiff of any oppression
I didn’t look at your face those times, assuming everything was alright
Didn’t have time for the Native American chapter, Freedom Riders a paltry two sentence section.
Christopher Columbus, what a hero you’re made to be! Cortez, discoverer of land and seas!
Don’t mind murder and disease. They were bringing GOD. The savages needed saving. Holy wars have casualties.
If they just didn’t put up a fight! Give up their gold, land, and human rights! It wouldn’t have been so bloody! Right?
But the forefathers founded this nation upon the Divine, so hide the genocide.
Strip the books of all other “lies”, use heroic terms to form a perfect disguise
For white eyes.
Here come the boats, lead the cattle to their fields
Work the earth ‘til dead, or beat them as they kneel
Property sold to the highest bidder, traded and broken, families splintered
Don’t speak of the rape.
No one wants to hear that. Or the dogs that were trained to hunt and attack.
Lesser souls with lesser brains, different features, hearts that lack. This “great nation” built upon their backs.
But on starless nights their voices raised. A liberation gospel on their lips. Grief soars upon the spirituals they sing
Begging strength for one more day, their weeping words an offering.
And civil war begins.
Warriors with hearts and words that move, revive the age-old youth
Equality, justice, love, and truth
A preacher man steps onto the platform, a doctor’s voice giving cause to hope,
To believe and peacefully resist the status quo, to not accept the noose hung low
The burning crosses and segregation, whites enter here, blacks back there
Rosa Parks had enough, her body ached as she sat on that bus
Half smiling mug shot a proclamation she would never give up
And the millions of hearts that raised their dissent in peaceful rebellion
Would soon swell to be enough
To change laws, and make motions, Supreme Court decisions
Redefine Constitutional notions
Of equality and freedom. Justice for all.
Wait, I think I heard talk of building a wall…
So how far have we really come since those years until now?
Blind privilege, ignorant to their treatment
Bodies on the front lines, excused by crafty lies, shadows cast while pooling blood draws flies
Violence simmers on the edges, hard hearts emboldened, swallowing ideology in a hatred that accepts them
Because we’ve all failed our brothers. We’ve all failed our sisters.
In our “look away” division, “them versus us” became the invisible line that we’ve learned to walk, each on his side.
Eggshells crack from time to time, but whatever you do, just smile and play nice, sweep them aside
Run home and hide, behind your tribe, your people, the ones you know
Don’t seek out the unknown! They’re so different than you, be afraid.
Dehumanize their faces, take away their names.
So the guilt can fade and shame won’t stay.
Jesus, in this crisis of humanity, Your heart still beats for ALL.
The colorful skin of this human race testifies to God’s glorious design and amazing grace
Image bearers of Holy, though broken we may be
Hatred on all fronts met with love and forgiveness cannot face the light of truth.
That’s why when violence is met with violence, the cyclical terror continues
And when condemnation fights with condemnation, blindness ensues
Change happens when opposites attract, when two sides meet and each react
But reaction determines the course heading for a future we’ve yet to see
Love trumps hate. Always. Its power is not contained in a fist or a gun
When these opposites meet the war is already won.
Disarm hearts and hands will follow. Forgive unconditionally and grace gets swallowed.
Words are lightening that strike the most positively charged, ready to hear, ready to receive
Listen to the ones who tell different stories and believe
It’s not your world and it’s not mine. It’s not just one experience and the rest lies.
Raised by different voices, formed by different choices, attuned to different noises
We see through different lenses, uniquely gifted with various perspectives
Mind-blowingly beautiful if you’ll stop being so protective
Of the little that you know.
Love & Peace, Amy