Peace on Earth

It’s that time of year when we pay lip service to peace.  What if we make it a year-round focus and put our money where our mouths are?  I started this poem a few weeks ago when I drove by a billboard for the National Guard, and felt a surge of anger about where our country’s money goes – especially  at the expense of so many things that could help our citizenry, rather than taking the lives of others.  (I realize the National Guard does help with domestic emergencies as well, but thinking about anything military related was the immediate inspiration for this poem.) Now in light of the recent tragic shooting in Connecticut, it’s even more imperative to question what our country values and try to change our course.  With that in mind, here’s another poem:

National Guard of Artists

I envision a National Guard
of Artists:
We live our lives as neighbors, citizens, regular folks
But are bound by oath
And answer
When called up in times of national crisis
Like now
Deployed to art-starved children
And adults
Towns and cities bereft
Of meaning and hope,
Lacking nutrition, fresh air, and clean water for the soul.

We wield our pens and paintbrushes,
We arm the citizens
With jagged hope, and distrust of authority –
Deep inner questioning and delight,
Borne together with
Brave communal truth-telling,
Naming our sorrows
Embracing all that was and could be.

The National Guard of Artists is
Defending our freedom of mind and spirit
Against limited horizons
Against the tyranny of
Never believing we’re enough
And holding guns as our last best hope.
The National Guard of Artists is
Funded by
A line item in the federal budget
Which is never touched:
Political suicide.

We support our troops
of Artists
Whether or not we agree with their
Wars for the soul.
We honor the men and women
In the artist’s uniform:
Ink-stained fingers, clay in their hair
For laying down their lives
Facing death-in-life every day
And emerging victorious.

© 2012, Rebecca Gingrich-Jones