|Photo Credit: Andrew M. Bell|
Today, along with my youngest son and his girlfriend, I attended a Black Lives Matter protest which gathered in Cathedral Square, Christchurch. Despite it being a day of constant drizzle, what the Irish call poetically "a soft rain", a large crowd of people gathered to express their utter disgust at the murder of George Floyd by white police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Since the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016, the global community have witnessed a former global superpower which seems to be in rapid decline. Those Americans who never supported Trump feel that he has been both a catalyst and a fomentor of that disintegration of their society.
In response to this ever-escalating situation in America and to George Floyd's brutal murder which is just the latest in a long line of American police killings of African Americans, I offer this poem:
Were you ever great, America?
Were you great when the starving pilgrims
were saved by your indigenous inhabitants?
Were you great when the settlers pushed west
bringing disease and decimation
to the many nations who had been there
for thousands of years?
Were you great when you assassinated
the President who abolished slavery?
Were you great a century later when you assassinated
the President who advocated black civil rights?
Were you great when you dropped atomic bombs
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Were you great when the CIA overthrew
Salvador Allende in Chile?
Were you great when Reagan funnelled arms and money
to the Contras to overthrow the Sandinistas?
Were you great when you defoliated
sixty percent of Vietnam?
Were you great when you invaded Iraq
because a President and his cronies lied?
You cannot make yourself “great again”
because you were never great.
Like the Roman Empire, you merely
possessed superior technology and
an inflated sense of your own importance
so you could bully the world to get your own way.
And now, like the procession of empires before you,
your corruption and decadence have grown
into a cancer that feeds on the venal and inane.
Fellow feeling has dissolved
in your grandiose sense of entitlement
and your outliers are emboldened, brazenly enriching themselves
by enslaving their fellow citizens.
A nation devoured on the pyre of self-interest.
Like a feeble-minded geriatric,
your memory has befogged your halcyon days
so that they lie shrouded in a mist of your own making.
Morality and ethics are but dreams,
once shimmering brightly in the darkness,
but forgotten on waking.
Once leaders of standing and character espoused equality
and the inalienable rights of all your countrymen and women,
regardless of race, colour and creed
to be granted "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
Your Praetorian Guard protects the elite
from imagined threats and suspicion falls always
on the proud descendants of the Nubians.
The world recoils as you descend into an abyss
where theft triumphs over generosity,
crime flaunts itself in the face of the law,
rampant egos crush communities
and murder is committed with impunity.
Were you ever great, America,
or were you merely lucky?
One day even the best luck runs out.
|Photo Credit: Andrew M. Bell|