Originally written the night of January 17-18, 1991
Upon hearing of the news on the radio in the evening of January 17, 1991 that President Bush had launched US bombing of Iraq, I spent much of the night into the wee morning hours of January 18 writing this satirical poem…….
O Great Spirit, Thank you for guiding our superior country, the United States, to conduct with nearly 2,000 military aircraft 2,000 bombing missions a day or 85 every hour for days on end to “crush, clobber and devastate” the country of Iraq and Sheikdom of Kuwait with so few casualties of our own.
Thank you for endowing us with the fine resources and technical brilliance to arm each bomber with three million dollars in ordnance possessing amazing accuracy and guidance.
Thank you for aiding us in dropping 36 million pounds of bombs every three hours, the most incredible bombing performance in the history of the world.
Thank you for enabling us to identify President Saddam Hussein as a Hitler-like dictator rather than a human being so that we can murder, maim and devastate without feeling any pain. In fact, we can feel satisfied and pleased, and enjoy “euphoria,” as Wall Street did on the morning after the bombing of Iraq was initiated.
Thank you for enabling us to continually live by a double standard whereby we can ignore and defy U.N. resolutions condemning and ordering the cessation of Israel’s occupation of nearly two million Palestinians while insisting that Iraq withdraw from the Sheikdom called Kuwait or be bombed into the Stone Age.
Thank you for enabling us to ignore entirely any historical understanding of the earlier colonial interventions into the Middle East whereby arbitrary boundaries were created by Western powers dividing historical cultures and lands into pieces to ensure Western control of oil.
Thank you for enabling us to ignore completely any of Iraq’s allegations of long-standing border disputes, infractions in oil well locations and oil policies, and questions over the legitimate sovereignty of Kuwait itself.
Thank you for enabling us to self-righteously champion peace without justice, when justice is the only way to peace. And thank you for enabling us to have the audacity to actively ignore U.N. resolutions condemning the United States government for our bombing of Libya, our terrorizing of Nicaragua for ten years and our invasions of Panama and Grenada.
Thank you for helping us forget that our civilization was and continues to be built on a foundation of genocide, genocide and more genocide of the Native Americans, the U.S. government violating each of nearly 400 treaties signed with the natives, and help us to forget that our civilization was constructed with slavery of black people forcefully kidnapped from their native lands and with subsequent exploitation and terrorizing of blacks as well as European, Latin and Asian immigrants.
Thank you for enabling us to forget about our own violent past and present dominated by continual racist attitudes here and abroad whereby our government over the decades has assaulted and murdered countless citizens in the labor, peace and justice movements.
Thank you for giving us the wisdom to spend $1 trillion in the 1980s on high-tech “conventional” weaponry so that we can actually use it as an alternative to the more politically difficult nuclear weapons.
Thank you for enabling us to have become so militarily superior that no nation or group of nations could ever match us and that every nation is subject to being devastated by us if they defy our national interests.
Thank you for guiding us to these accomplishments while enabling us to ignore our own economic decline, our increasing poverty and homelessness, especially among single mothers and their children, our own lack of quality health care for all our citizens, our drug and crime problems; to ignore the increasing ecological destruction of our planet that threatens to extinguish our species and to ignore the increased poverty of 75% of the world’s population, a poverty that breeds revolutionary fervor.
In fact, we are very appreciative that we are able to be in deep denial about so many realities in our own country and around the globe. Otherwise we could not continue our way of life.
Thank you for having anointed us as the morally superior people of the world, enabling us to decide for so many others how they should live and conduct their lives.
Thank you for helping us to squander and exploit half of the world’s resources but with five percent of the world’s population and to be deluded into believing that the oil under Arab land in the Middle East is really our oil to fuel the American Way Of Life at the expense of others.
Thank you for guiding us to spend $5 billion last year on weight reduction diets while 40,000 children died every day in the world for lack of food and nutrition. Let us forget that those children die not for lack of food on the planet but for lack of ability to buy food from the sellers.
Thank you, Great Spirit, for having so richly blessed us with material comforts and for enabling us to forcefully intervene around the globe with military, covert, economic and political devices to assure our access to cheap resources, cheap labor and lucrative markets.
Thank you for granting us the capacity to possess historical amnesia, current delusions, and psychological denial so that we won’t feel conflict and knots in our stomachs about these injustices.
But oh! Great Spirit we need help to maintain our denial, our ignorance, our arrogance. Please help us to maintain our double standard, our American Way of Life (AWOL) no matter what the cost to other human beings, other nations, other species, and to the sacred and indispensable ecology of Mother Earth. Please, Great Spirit, please, I plead with you, help us to avoid any risks, pain, adversity, or major changes. Help us to avoid taking personal responsibility for our lives and for my life. Please, I hope you don’t call upon me to speak the truth of my heart, to make the kind of radical changes that some suggest are inevitable in our lifestyle, global attitudes and consumption patterns.
Please, Great Spirit, help me to remain in your good graces without having to make any big changes. Can’t I live, think, and feel “business as usual”? Do I have to learn about unconditional love? I don’t like a lot of people and what they do. I don’t really want to take personal responsibility for my life and the action and policies of my government.
But it seems that you are speaking to me. Are you saying that it would be good to listen to the inner voice that is suggesting that my understandings and wishes are backward? Are you calling me to make radical changes in community with other kindred souls, to take what seems like crazy stands, to speak the truth of only what I believe in my heart to be true?
Are you asking me to willingly consider the need for continual transformation, even to participate in nonviolent revolutionary change? If that is the case, please help me find others to discuss this with. Please give me strength and clarity and vision and the courage to stand up and express with my life my heart-felt truth, even if it conflicts with my government and its spokespersons and majority opinion.
If what my government is doing seems to be utterly insane and barbaric but the majority support it as necessary and patriotic, should I still stand up and take all the risks involved in advocating justice for all people, including Arabs and blacks and Hispanics and women and natives?
That seems so hard, so difficult when the society seems so entrenched in its destructive ways and continually talks in double-speak. You say you still urge me to say it the way I see it? To express it the way I feel it? And to have faith that I’ll find the strength to do it? You’re saying I’m not alone? Oh! I guess there are others. I guess they’re right here.
Shall we begin today? Please help me. I will commit to helping you. We really need each other now for the long haul. For radical change. So we can survive with dignity on the planet with millions of other humans.
We are all equal. We need to evolve from Homo hostilis to Homo amicus.
Thank you for speaking to me and encouraging me to share this dialogue with you.