Cambridge

by Mark Chmiel

Now that you’ve been accepted
To the Kennedy School of Government
Where you’ll have access
To current and future movers and shakers

Where there’ll be balanced discussions
About “America’s humanitarian role in the world”
Where professors are civil, assured
Savvy, and so very smart

Once a month (or, if need be, once a day)
Return to some touchstones
Like one of Mev’s photos from Haiti
Or one of your photos from Gaza

Meditate on these images of people
Whom Chomsky and Herman described
As the “unworthy victims”
Of the United States

They are worthy to you
Their suffering is real to you
Their dignity radiated out to you
And vibrates in you to this day

Remember that not so ancient history
Of when Jimmy Carter
(The human rights president)
Ignored Oscar Romero’s plea

To stop sending U.S. arms to his country
Whose government was using them
To massacre the people
Who were awakening to their human rights

“I commend these words to you
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house
When you walk on your way” [1]:

“The church in Latin America
Has much to say about humanity
It looks at the sad picture
Portrayed by the Puebla conference:

Faces of landless peasants
Mistreated and killed by the forces of power
Faces of laborers arbitrarily dismissed
And without a living wage for their families

Faces of the elderly
Faces of outcasts
Faces of slum dwellers
Faces of poor children who from infancy

Begin to feel the cruel sting of social injustice
For them, it seems, there is no future—
No school, no high school, no university
By what right have we cataloged persons

As first-class persons or second-class persons?
In the theology of human nature
There is only one class:
Children of God” [2]

Donkey Boys

[1] Primo Levi, “Shema”
[2] Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

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