“Being evil is only something that only humans are capable of.” Jane Goodall
Just Following Orders
In 1960 an architect appeared in court in down town Jerusalem charged with crimes against humanity. He was the architect of the Holocaust, his defence was banal, he claimed immunity because he was only following orders.
Who never questions motive? Who believes they are perfect and above the law?And who never effects harm on others? But of those who excelled in following orders, no matter how perverted, Adolf Eichmann stands apart as intentionally evil, and more so because of his claim that he was just following orders. And, so, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm? really? Think slavery. Think Eichman, think Vietnam War, Think Derek Chauvin, think so many.
Our actions always affect others, and where there is evil the effect is always negative. Harm comes to those in the orbit of such people. Just listen to Holocaust survivors.
“But the fear and contempt for Aboriginal people and culture, which perpetuated the lie of “Terra Nullius” for more than two centuries, is deeply institutionalised and far from quashed.” Sharon Collins
Note: Captain James Cook on an expedition navigated Australia’s east coast in 1770 which paved the way for British occupation. In 1776, January 26th Captain Arthur Phillip claimed sovereignty by the British crown over Australia. January 26th continues to be celebrated as “Australia Day” which remains a lie that denies the existence of Australia’s First Nations people. The High Court has ruled Terra Nullius” is indeed an obvious lie, but the process of undoing two centuries of entrenched racism is proving to be very difficult. While Cook contributed much to our understanding of the geography of the world, he also played his part in denying First Nation peoples their rightful place. Terra Nullius is Latin meaning “land belonging to no one.” Hence the lie.
At dVerse Sarah is hosting Poetics with an invitation to share a poem that has called to us, affected us in some way, positively or otherwise, and to write a poem in response. dVerse Poets – Poetics – A Conversation
I have chosen Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ and riffed on that a little. I despise war and I see it as a failure of humanity to sit down together. Wilfred Owen fought in the British army in WW1 and died at the age of 25 in 1918 one week before war’s end. For a detailed biography see The Wilfred Owen Association
Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- only monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
“Men make war to get attention. All killing is an expression of self-hate.” Alice Walker
“I know the removal of the Colston statue will divide opinion, as the statue itself has done for many years. However it’s important to listen to those who found the statue an affront to humanity.” Marvin Rees (Mayor of Bristol)
“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.” Thomas Fuller
That one moment where you create time
when there isn’t time and you dare to
venture to the cupboard,
to the draw full of
the symbols of a life in a
house of histories,
restored to mind and yet,
rubber seals and old matches,
that old separator spanner,
a marble, a pen, a tack,
candles for birthdays,
the rest are nameless now,
these bits and pieces of a
Frank at dVerse has invited us to write a poem, but which must end with a rhyming couplet.
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” Marcel Proust
The fetish of nostalgia reeks
like overripe banana in
an open bin on a hot day,
vanguard of decay in this
haunt of demons
waiting to persuade me,
to humiliate proud memories
that now enter the picture
distorted by time’s passing,
a repressive fiction
needing confessional diminution,
awaiting with shreds of contrition.