Every month, I post one of my poems (paired with one of my pictures), sharing its origin and some of its essence. Here is my Poem & Pic of the Month for September 2014:
by Patrick Bishop
Our systems failed you.
It's a flaw of its design.
Inherent in the rules, is the brokeness.
Truth be told,
it was our hearts that failed you long ago.
Our eyes are blind to the plight of the other.
We are lost
in our own imaginary seperateness.
Even before that day we failed you.
But now, it is broken open
for all who can see to see.
The story of love has always been about
awakening to the injustice
poured out on to the powerless
What is wrong with us?
Will we ever learn the lesson?
Where is love?
Not in our logic, but in our hearts.
Not just from our lips, but in our actions.
Not in our anger, but in our tenacity to forgive.
Once again, we must start anew
and look for the courage to cry
and the resolve to teach
those who can learn
the lesson of united
in a spirit of deep, authentic
In July 2013, the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin just wrapped up. Zimmerman was acquited. The whole situation left a sad, bad, mad taste in my mouth. It was such a waste of life. It was such an injustice. I'm not just talking about Zimmerman being acquited, I'm talking about how we got to this point in the first place. It made me weary and gave me a dull ache all over.
If I'm honest, I was mad at myself too. Mad at my indifference and inability to do something... anything. I was sad too. Sad for the loss of life, the loss of trust, the loss of innocence. In that moment, it hit me that the hate in our hearts is the same. In other words, hate anywhere is a reflection of hate everywhere. The same is true for love. It's part of our human condition and we have to decide for ourselves which one we want to live in.
Sitting at the end of a dock on a lake in Newaygo County, I let my pencil flow with what I was feeling. This letter-poem is the result. Frankly, I thought it would remain unpublished... until it happened again on Saturday, August 9, 2014 in a place called Ferguson. Sadly, I recently realized I could change the name in this poem from Trayvon to Michael and it would still be the same message.
This was a very tough poem for me to share. First, it's written in a non-traditional, odd format, almost like a letter. Second, the content is controversial and polarizing. By sharing it, I run the risk of inflaming the hate rather than my true purpose, calling us all to a deeper love. Why publish it then? Because, until we realize that the pain of "the other" is as real as my pain, or "the other's" need for love is as important as my need for love, these situations will keep happening... only the names and places will change.
This photo seemed to fit the poem as a perfect metaphor. It's from a recent trip Paula and I made to NYC. It is, of course, the Statue of Liberty. The image has not been manipulated, other than some minor re-coloring. It was taken from one of the overview areas, just below the feet of the sculpture.
It strikes me as the perfect metaphor because the focus is on the book, which I interpret as the law. The angle of the picture is clearly missing the torch, and even Lady Liberty's head. For me, the torch represents the fire and passion and goodness of the American people (AKA, the heart). The head is our ability to reason. In combination with this poem, the photo says to me, we have put so much of our focus and attention on the law (rules, rituals, regulations), we have lost our head and our heart.