Headlines for August 4, 2014


Finally, there is no moral tide,
that rises on either side.
Blood is blood and what is blood in war,
but an end to all means to an end.

Shed enough of it,
and the object of that titular cause,
however just, will vanish,
leaving only an escalation to extremes.

After this, only the lie remains.
Are we forever murderers?
Shall I shoot down my enemy,
call it victory?

I want my enemy to see the green,
after this grey rain.
See the stillness of the leaves in these woods,
feel its enchantment.

I want him to be anointed by the sun,
have crops that spill from bins,
see his children play under the blue spruce,
where this yellow warbler sings.

I want these blessings to shower my enemy
until by sheer weight,
the shells jailing our souls are shattered,
and my enemy might be my friend.

There is no politics, no decree, no treaty,
that heals.
There is no science, no technique, no bullet,
that kills hate.

Only missiles
of mercy,
only an invasion of compassion,
only the occupation of love.

Today marks 100 years since the start of the first world war.


  1. I love this poem, Stephen. Since moving to the DC area, I am around so, so many people in the military and who work in high levels of US government and sometimes I feel like I am drowning in their rhetoric…so very different fro my own commitment to mercy, as you always say so well.

    I recently heard an old recording of a lecture given by Clarence Jordan, a pastor and farmer in the southern US in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond. His small farm community was working to promote equality of blacks and whites in that day, particularly among the black sharecroppers that lived nearby. The farm was bombed, shot at and boycotted for many years and through it all, Clarence preached, not non-resistance, as he said, but “active goodwill” towards those who were bent on getting rid of them. His heart longed for just what you have written, a moving beyond animosity with this enemies.

    Thank you for writing and sharing your heart and your words, Stephen.

  2. A beautiful vision, Steve, thanks. “Escalation to extremes” reminds me of a research report I once read that demonstrated that the force of retaliation for humans exceeds the provocation by about 25%.

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