FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Poem: How Does One Measure Sadness?

Updated 30 MAY 2012
I wrote this poem today (it's a work in progress, with more verses to come), inspired by someone with whom I was in a discussion on Twitter (@FAOFUUO) who said: "There has been worse things that happened to other humans than the Holocaust. Just one sad event in human history not the worst."  Now this statement is recounted here without much context, but the point is not about that person or the Holocaust itself, but instead a deeper philosophical, spiritual and perhaps theological pondering.

My first reaction was one of concurrence with the statement, but as the day wore on his statement sunk into me and agitated inside up me like gravel on my skin and I ended up rejecting it--maybe the Holocaust was the worst--maybe it wasn't.  For me it came down to an unanswerable question that would only have an answer that would be irrelevant and certainly irreverent.
How Does One Measure Sadness?

Does one hold a measuring cup to
Capture the accumulated tears
Of an atrocity’s victims?

Does one hoist the tears of
Gassed Holocaust Jews and
Does one add to it
the rubbered scars of the survivors?
Does one scrape and shake out the
Ink from tattooed serial numbers into
The cup?

Does one appraise the tears of
Raped, murdered and mutilated
Tutsis and Hutus?
Does one weigh
The bones of school children slaughtered?
Does one record the nightmares recounted
In gacaca courts’
Grass fields?

Does one quantify the tears
Vaporized in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Does one tally the
Seared and blackened
deadened flesh?
Does one register
The slow demise of life
from radiation sickness?

Does one place the hearts
buried at Wounded Knee
upon the scales of Dike?
Does one mark the expanse
of the theft of an
entire continent?
Does one count
sorrows’ burden of
desolate and derelict reservations?

How does one measure sadness?
Does one pile up

the tears                     the bodies            the flesh            the nightmares
the ink                        the bones            the corpses            the screams

to compare and judge their loss?

How does one assess the weight of a scream?

How does one compute the last gasp of a dying child?

How can I ever 


your loss?

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