Wednesday, December 10, 2014

One of My Old Poems--on Torture

Nothing Human Is Alien                  

Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto
I am a human being; I consider nothing human alien to me   --Terence

Nothing human is alien
To me, or to you, my friend.

The Roman playwright Terence said this, 2000 years ago.
It was true then; it is true now.

You and I are fully capable of torture,
Murder, rape               as well as
Kindness, compassion,


So I am not terribly surprised to see
Abu Ghraib and naked hooded prisoners
Humiliated, smeared with their own feces,
Beaten, deprived of sleep. But terribly disappointed.
Terribly disappointed.

This is not Dachau, this is not the Inquisition,
But it’s in the horrific tradition,
And a brutality at the hands of our own.

Torture always redounds unto the torturers.
Karma is a law of nature, not a religious fantasy.
And as we torture and humiliate our enemy,
We torture and humiliate ourselves.

Nothing human is alien to me, or you,
But let us call forth our better selves,
Let us bring forth kindness, compassion, forgiveness,


Robert M. Coughlin / May 26, 2004

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