Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blinded to the Real

I'm being given lots of poetry during my first stint of intensive classes in my doctoral program, because, apparently, all of my professors here love it.  I make no claims at all to being a poet, but if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...so, this next post is written (mostly) in verse, and honestly, that is probably for the better because if I wrote in uncensored prose about our illusions of persecution, and the reality that this pales in comparison to the very real persecution (in both historical and present terms) of others, I'd be unspooling so much incoherence that I fear the larger point would be lost amidst my nonsensical verbiage.

A word about the title: it is inspired by a very famous verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad from the Hindu tradition, some 2,700 years ago.  I first read this verse in the children's book How Do You Spell God, a baptism gift from my late aunt Florence nearly 20 years ago, and the verse is translated roughly as:

From the unreal lead me to the real
From darkness lead me to light
From death lead me to immortality

It remains my fervent hope and prayer to God that we are led from the unreal illusions of our minds to understand the real that is experienced by our neighbors.  ~E.A.

Decades upon decades
From fortresses, on slave ships
Life gets extinguished

Living to dying
Earth into ocean, sunlight
Into fires of hell

In death, we conquer
The other, the savages
Bodies without souls

Blinded to the real
That within and from above
Humanness flickered

Flickered inside they
Not beasts of burden, not slaves
But God's own created

Like the ocean's waves
Their voice, God's voice, all are drowned
When will they emerge?

Feel persecuted
White people, because the flag
Is at long last down

Feel persecuted
White people, because the show
Is off the air now

Feel persecuted
White people, because others
Now match your volume

But please, do ignore
How we took other cultures
Down below the waves

And please, do ignore
How we have time and again
Mocked other cultures

Criticize music
Criticize fashion and art
Criticize it all

But don't you dare give
To us your criticisms
Of our white culture

Why can't you shut up
Why do you sow division
Why can't you just nod

When we tell you we
Honor our heritages
Jaded though they are

Why can't you let us
Stay standing on your shoulders
Heavy though we are

How dare you cry out
How dare you demand justice
How dare you reach us

When it is us...we
Who are blinded to the real
From above and within

O God of Jacob
Of Abraham and Isaac
Lead us to the real

Seattle, Washington
July 14, 2015

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