A Dialogue with the Great Spirit

January 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
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
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
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?
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.

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