It’s late, it’s hot and
bedtime equals cruel time when you’re in jail.
The slab of steel is bruising to anything it touches.
Temples pound while
heads long for a pillow then
settle for a leather shoe,
whichever is softer of the two.
Eyes close but remain awake
to the memorized smiles of loved ones,
to the sweetest kisses ever tasted,
to the bluest oceans ever sailed.
The window-less walls
glare with indifference
while clock-less hours
tick into rhythm-less motion.
Sweat soaks cuffs.
Follicles redden beneath violent fingernails.
Meanwhile, their resolve strengthens as
the outcry grows louder;
the march, faster;
the chant, deeper —
all of which is music to their ears.
When darkness engulfs those cold, hard cells,
the only sources of light are the heart and mind.
Though steel bars lock, the will remains free.
Recently, I had the privilege of watching Desmond Tutu and Aung San Suu Kyi in conversation with Charlie Rose. It was a life-affirming experience to hear from these lifelong activists who have made great sacrifices fighting for human rights. And now as I watch the ongoing non-violent protests by folks who want to stop construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline or the Occupy Wall Street group (that have now formed sub-groups in other cities, there’s even an Occupy San Francisco now), I’m reminded of the ordinary-ness of everyday heroes, how they are everywhere among us, simply choosing to do what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do. I’m sure some of you reading this are already such heroes or are heroes in the making.
I’m in awe of these folks brave enough to block construction of the pipeline, bold enough to protest economic inequities and daring enough to fight for a cause, save a life or re-assert human rights. The above piece is dedicated to them. They remind me, once again, of just how much I (we) have compared to so many others who deserve just as much. They challenge me to consider what I’d be willing to go to jail for and what sacrifices I’d be willing to make to preserve what’s truly important. They show me through their actions that collaboration or cooperation is the only way there is to truly move forward.
If you’d like to be moved, read Bill McKibben‘s Rolling Stone piece.
image credit here