Will I continue to care when the world's media moves on to the next big story? I ponder the UK's involvement in supporting dictators and unjust regimes through our trade in arms and other 'defence' equipment. Since the UK is a democracy I have to say this is also my involvement. Should I feel guilty?
Today I was moved by this poetic response by Rachel Barenblat to the 2011 protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Gabon, Bahrain, Lybia and elsewhere.
Liberation comes when people gather
by the tens and by the thousands
demanding that the despot who's held the reins
step down, and in between the slogans
they dish out lentils cooked over open flame,
and homes open up so the protestors can shower
and members of one faith link hands
to protect members of another faith at prayer.
Liberation comes at a cost: not only
the horses and chariots swept away, but
innocents gunned down by their own army,
panicked children lost in the roiling crowds
activists imprisoned for speaking freely,
and when the world stops watching
they may be beaten -- or worse.
It's upon us to at least pay attention
on mobile phones and computer screens
as real people rise up to say
we have the right to congregate and to speakRachel, a Jewish writer and new rabbi, invites comments on this poem at her blog Velveteen Rabbi. I love the way her poem encompasses the contrasts of hope and fear, activism and obervation, mutual care and destruction. This makes it both an encouraging and an uncomfortable poem that moves from comforting hospitality (dishes of lentils, showers for protestors, different faith groups protecting each other in prayer) to the slaughter of the innocents. The last words 'we are not afraid' are resonant of many situations where courageous people in dangerous situations have spoken out for what is right, determinedly standing their ground, even to death. I wonder, should the last line be "we will not be silenced, but we are afraid"?
we will not be silenced, we are not afraid."