I saw a short presentation on the political and social situation in an
East African country. Plagued by violence, fear, exploitation and
corruption, the mother and child health statistics are shocking. [and
to think there are real feeling, dreaming, beautiful, created in the
image of God humans behind the numbers in neat categories].
One picture showed a young man holding a machine gun with ammunition
over his shoulder, gazing with determination. The words followed:
''Traditionally the warrior is very popular...''
Next a picture of a man of similar age, stature and gaze, but this one
was crouching in the grass with a few friends. ''...also the poet.''
I think of what the warrior represents: Someone who can bring about
the change we long for. Someone who will fight evil and oppression.
Bring Justice. I see why the warrior is popular. I, too, want a
The poet is different. The poet publicly grieves the way things are,
uses words to call the present into question, and stirs us with a
corporate imagining of the new world coming.
In Walter Brueggemann's "The Prophetic Imagination'', he writes that a
function of the Hebrew prophet was to call into question the current
situation--to use language and action to pierce through the dominant
conciusness that lulls us to sleep with ''this is how things are, this
is how things will always be''.
The warrior fighting flesh and blood with flesh and blood seeks the
virtue justice by a means that can neither represent nor sustain what
it claims to seek. [MLK Jr. called this 'purity by way of
fornication']. The poet catches the vision of Justice, announces the
end of the old order and calls us to get ready for that which is
unstoppable and coming to save us. We can't help but allign ourselves.
The US State Department condemned the recent bombings in southern
India that killed 42 people, saying ''There is no justification for
harming and killing innocent people.''
The Iraq Body Count (iraqbodycount.org) estimates that between 70,000
and 77,242 civilians have been killed since the 2003 invasion and
subsequent occupation of Iraq by the US and its allies. Most would
agree that civilians fall into the categroty of ''innocent people''.
Let us call forth the poets.
[29 August 2007]