Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What price this child

Picture if you will a photo
A photo of a town
A damaged, war torn town
Unrecognisable from any other
This town could be any one of thousands
And probably is

Picture in the centre, filling much of the frame
A building, a house
Broken, falling down
Its original design lost in the aftermath
Of a bomb, or bombs
Dropped by an enemy
The inhabitants had never met

Now picture in the foreground
Poking from out the rubble
A small hand, a forearm
The colour of the skin indeterminate
Obscured by blood and dust staining its surface
The face of the child unrecognisable
Beneath the debris
This child could be any child
Of any age
Of any gender
Of any race
But one child among millions

Picture all this, if you will
And then call this picture ‘price tag’
For this we are told is the price of freedom
This the price of peace
The death of children
Ours, theirs
But what price the life of this child

What price this child

And who decides this price of peace

A country whose own children fight
In an army that will kill more of them itself
Through miscalculation
Equipment failure
And human error
Than the enemy will ever see
And their names, too, will become numbers
Tabulation of acceptable loss
But one more price
In the fight for that we cannot win
Through war

But what price the life of this child
And do they think us so unwilling to pay it
That we would not forgo a meal to see once more his smile
That we would not risk the insecurity
Of reducing a military
That cannot protect us
To see her play again
Of limiting a deterrent that does not deter
To hear them all laugh again

But murder is nothing new
War is nothing new
It is a part of us
And has been for as long as our races can remember
And longer
Since man first learned that by bending his knuckles
Curling the tips of his fingers into his palm
He could turn the end of his arm into a club

And no country is without its evils
Its injustice
Its closet full of skeletons
For all colonisation is genocide
All succession, each claim to territorial rights
Is bloodshed
And all conflict gives death to those
Who did not chose the fight

But all I can ask is
What price the life of this child
This life
This potentiality unrealised
Never to run again
Play again
Never to grow
And laugh
And know love

This life extinguished
For reasons not adequately explained

Or any fault of this young corpse
Lying among the rubble
Its home has now become

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