Images from the 1970’s have been running on social media in response of PBS’s series on the decade. One image inspired this poem:
Violence is a small thing.
It is a girl child running through the jungle, arms stretched out
mouth open in silent cry, clothes seared from her body.
It is a small thing.
Violence is an act of war.
It is a jetliner ripping a skyscraper in half. It is men detonating the bombs they strap to their bodies. It is women being gang raped on the back of busses.
Violence is the sting of a mother’s slap on her young son’s frozen cheek.
Non-violence begins when I remember that violence doesn’t ask for much.
Because violence is a small thing.
Violence begins when I wake to curse the haggard reflection staring back at me.
Violence ends when I wake and offer thanks for my humble life.
Violence begins when I whisper secrets that belong to someone else.
It ends when I sit in quiet contemplation.
Violence begins when I fill my eyes with gratuitous images.
It ends when I change the channel.
Violence. Non-violence. Ahimsa. Himsa.
Two sides of the same coin that we toss into the air without a second thought.