Saturday, September 29, 2012


Night. It is forever night here, even when the sun shines, stark and blazing, overhead. It is the night of those men who love darkness, rather than light, because their deeds are evil. Darkness cloaks the truths we cannot bear to face, re-clothing them in the illusion of glamour.  But how many of these men know that they do evil? Some know, and take pleasure in it, they are devils in human form and cruelty and destruction are their delight. The darkness is both within them and without, and the pain of others has become their meat and drink. But most of them are men, human beings with wives and children, who love and delight in the common grace notes of life: the warm hug, the cool drink, the feel-good trappings of ordinary success. How did they come to be such instruments of Hell?

Some know that they do evil, but have lost the ability to preserve their own souls. They may be valiant on the battlefield they were trained for, but in the moral arena they are arrant cowards. They go through the motions like men in a waking dream, automata who do just as they are instructed with set faces and empty eyes. Somewhere, locked deep away, their soul is screaming with the terror of damnation, but they dare not listen. It is easier to sell your human birthright for a bowl of soup, than to throw your soup back in your superiors’ faces. Such men end up on the other side of the wire. They are called prisoners. But then, in such a system, who is free? So they fumble their nervous addictions, and try to pretend all is well.

And many deny evil, refusing to name it for what it is. Years of enculturation have made their hearts as cold, and as hard, as the ice on the Bavarian mountains. It is just another, necessary job. It is the prisoners’ own fault if they are hurt, if they are disobedient or inadequate and cannot meet the demands placed upon them. Weak men deserve what they get, and the elimination of the weak is the price that must be paid for a ‘better’ world. In truth, they have no choice. Once you admit the truth of others’ pain you can no longer deny your own: you must acknowledge that your own soul was not created to thrive in this barren wasteland, where dog eats dog and the hard men laugh at the bones. It is so much easier to drift along with the system, submit to the propaganda and the lies, and dismiss love as the realm of women and fools. And if the wind blows bleak and terrible in your nightmares, well, you have learned to endure silently even in your sleep.

But no night is eternal, and when the light of heaven breaks upon your prisoners and slaves, the eyes of the world will turn to you and demand an accounting. And no one will consider the sheer banality of evil, or the simplicity of the descent to Avernus, an adequate excuse. You were a human being, you were supposed to see and know. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Telling the Truth

Snow falls on Dachau, wintry year on year,
Covering, like the subtler snows of time,
The lineaments of naked truth and pain.
We speak the story.

The blur of story, and of memory bent,
Bending to edit, bending to rewrite, 
Will waver what is etched in blood and stone:
Theirs was the story.

We must remember, we must stand like trees,
And put our roots down in the bitter place,
To drink in all that is, and all that was:
Facing the story.

Every pretending opens up a gate
Through which a monstrous evil may walk forth,
To spew more filth on an uncaring world,
Numb to the story.

We must stand witness under time’s cruel lash:
The least we can do for the least of these,
Till memory becomes a sacrament,
Knowing the story.

Stark truth must stand, and we must speak its name,
With heavy lips but a courageous heart,
Speaking that our own souls have played their part –
Owning the story.

Let it not fade to make us comfortable,
Let there be justice done and justice said,
Until that hour when every wrong is dead:
This was the story.