Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “justice

Counting Questions

DeEttaHJenkins

Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

There are expenses
we regularly calculate, but
there are others we ignore.

In order to see the big picture,
we can't just ask,
"How much does it cost
to do such-and-such?" or
"How much does it cost
to not do it?"

We must recognize that
costs can be attached
to more than our wallets.
Here are some
of the gospel's calculating questions:

What will it cost my heart & soul
to do or not do this?
What will doing or
not doing this cost my family?
What will this action or
inaction cost my neighbor?
What will these choices
cost the planet?

The universe is expanded
by gracious choices.
It is diminished
by greedy ones.

The cost is outrageous
for all these priceless lives;
secretly calculated in hearts
too small to hold Love's grand truth;

too scared to see all of us
have the same value;
too busy counting and comparing
to feel the ground beneath us quaking,
the skies above us tearing.

We shrink because we sense difference,
recoil with superiority's confidence,
while the universe expands and diversifies
and the holy one weeps.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Entitlement

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When greed has run amuck,
words are turned inside-out,
like shirts that have missed
a much-needed trip
to the laundry,
stinking to high heaven,
and only discerned
by those who are
attentive to the seams.

Those in whose favor
everything's been tilted
for generations, and
in whose pockets piles
of plunder reside,
misconstrue language
to attack others
upon whose backs
castles are built.

"If they are without,"
the dictionary is rewritten
to declare,
"anything we allow them
to have must be entitlement."

And the one who created
the universe, via a vocabulary
with integrity, winces,
as tears roll down like
an ever-flowing stream,
because those whose hubris
is actually entitlement
have abandoned their own kin.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


This Just In

LL McPhoto by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Fear divides, intent
on conquering with its,
“Vive la différence!”

Love unites, earnestly
calling us together,
“Vive la similarité!”

What matters is not 
the color of our skin,
the roots of our faith,
or the nation of our origin,

but whether privilege
can truly be acknowledged,
voluntarily relinquished,
and power bestowed with grace,

so long-held shackles
can be hammered
into step-ladders of hope.

It is past time for us
to work better, together,
nourishing and quenching
a world hungry for dignity
and thirsty for respect.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


They

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They demanded and
even forced your labor,
offering no or little wages.

Silly me; I assured myself
I was doing comparatively well,
and somebody had
to be at the bottom,
mostly glad it wasn't me.

They took your dignity,
with images and cultural narratives
painting you as lesser,
or airbrushing you out
of the picture altogether.

Foolish me; I looked
in the mirror and saw
the right shade and shape,
assuming I still had
shreds of my own remaining.

They kicked you out
by banning and deportation,
as if culture, language, and religion
were legitimate wedges.

Trembling me; I fell
for scapegoating, ignoring
the malignancy
of systemic dis-ease.

They broke your spirit,
kicking you in the gut
with insufficient opportunities,
boot on your throat
with charges of laziness.

Ignorant me; I thought
I could prop mine up
with consumption and dogged pursuit,
not of my dreams, but
of what they told me to desire.

They're here
to steal your soul,
and it slices through my own,
clearly awakening me
to our eternal tether.

Now, I realize I've been
a part of "they" all along,
with my blind eye,
my silence, my privilege,
my vested interest votes.

Maybe we can't go back,
but I know that,
wherever we must go from here,
it will have to be together.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Change of Heart

war memorial

 

“Give us something to cheer about!”, the crowd cajoles. “We are in need of hosanna –  of being delivered on the spot – so let’s get moving!”

“Look what I have for you.” the voice trembles at first, then crescendos, “I have attacked an enemy with brute military might!”

“Is there gore, and blood? Can we do a victory dance?”

“Yes! Stomach-turning violence and rivers of blood. Let the spoils of celebration be gathered!”

“Let the banshee cry! Let reveling be unleashed!”

“But earlier in the week you had a different master; one who healed the sick, fed the hungry, invited the uninvited, and loved the unlovable. What of him?”

“His ways are arduous, expecting our abundance to feed the hungry, calling us to love our enemies, asking difficult questions of our choices and allegiance. Who knew being neighbors would be so complicated?!”

“I would never ask such challenging things of you. All empire asks is your unquestioned allegiance, your willingness to join and support the force, and a few other minor details in the fine print. You’ll learn about them later.”

“We are in!”

“The one you paraded into town on Sunday; do you know how dangerous he is? He’s a threat to all we’re trying to amass. As long as he’s around, you’ll always struggle, not just with how to treat your neighbor, but also with how far your neighborhood extends.”

“Ah, we see what you mean. In that case, by all means, let’s nip it in the bud, once and for all.”

“And by that, you mean?…”

The crowd roared, “Nail him to a tree! String him up! Give him the needle! Pull the switch! Ready, aim, fire!”

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Instead

lee l mckinney 4Photo by Lee Lindsey McKinney

Liberation, like grace,
when advocated by humans,
always has limits.

At some point in the story
of our history and community
we all draw a line;

a mark in the sand to which
we are wholly oblivious,
until someone on the other side
points it out.

Christianity attempts to follow
the narrative of the God-Human;
the only one whose love
was unlimited; the one
who drew expansive circles,
instead.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Deeper

FullSizeRender (68)This one was written in 2015

 

How can we more fully move
beyond a respect for the flag
and knee-jerk patriotism
to a discussion of the actions
of a government driven,
not by a desire for liberty
and justice for all,
but by the fear, greed,
and homogeneity of a few?

If our culture is going
to change for the better,
we're going to have to create
a safe environment
for deeper conversations.

We're going to have to face,
admit, and address
our own comfort and complicity
in the power structures that exist.

We're going to have to live glocally –
thinking globally and acting locally.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Building

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That building we call
church isn't really a church.

It only becomes church
when people show up
to make church;

when people use it
to be and become church.

What difference would it make
for the community
if we, on the inside,
not only understood that,
but lived it more intentionally
on the outside?

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Collateral

otj

Photo by Owen Jenkins

 

The word means
“standing side by side” and
“descended from the same stock 
but of a different line.”

Do you remember a time
when this word could
stand on its own,

when it wasn’t nearly
suffixed with “damage”,
as if we couldn’t fathom
connotations in a different universe?

Maybe in the banking industry,
where it takes money
to make money;
and you can’t qualify
for a loan unless you can prove
that you’ve already got enough
to not need it in the first place.

We have warped
the word collateral,
using it regularly
to excuse the extermination
of people we are not quite
willing to stand beside,
whose DNA we have declared
is not human; but maybe

we are the ones
who’ve lost our humanity
one noose, one injection,
one massive surge of electricity,
one drone mission, one baseball bat,
one wall, one border patrol,
one round of ammunition at a time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

ing

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In consideration
of hatred, fear,
xenophobia, and division
for personal or political gain,
it's easy to sit back
and speculate, "What
would you do?"

Once speculation has
not only left the station,
but also disembarked
from multiple platforms,
the only question
worth asking is,
"What AM I DOING?"

Present participles are
the only engines
worth putting on this track.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins