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The Devil Whispers

June 25, 2018 Leave a comment

You start by taking—
small acts:
a shoelace, a ring,
a tiny belt. When the crying
begins, steel yourself
against feeling—
your orders are what they are,
and what happens
if you say no? Chaos,
anarchy, danger.
No, do not look into the eyes
of children, breaking
and broken, brown
and full of grief,
do as you are told,
follow the law
of the lawless—
do not waiver,
do not bend.

Begin then by building the wall
in your heart, brick by brick,
fill up the emptiness
with more hollow,
let what’s missing
become a solid thing:
soul, trickled down to nothing,
a riverbed gone empty,
a well dried up—
this is your legacy.

You start by taking,
until you see what you’ve lost,
what you have stolen,
what blood you have spilled
in the form of tears,
putting miles between
a child and her mother,
the unquantifiable distance
of grief far, far worse—
a wound so deep
that it has no measure,
and you have done this
and lived with it,
looked at your face
in the mirror and smiled,
laughed with your own children,
held them close,
sat at the kitchen table
with your own father,
playing cards,
as if there are no consequences
for your quick hands,
your loyalty
to the disloyal—
thank you.

You have done my work,
called it good,
labeled it just. God
may have created the world
in seven days,
but look at the heartbreak now,
and see what we have destroyed
together—
isn’t it beautiful?

Categories: poem, Poetry, Uncategorized

How Horrors Happen: The Milgram Experiment

June 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Lately, I can’t stop thinking about the Milgram experiment conducted by Yale University. It’s been a while since I’ve studied psychology, but the details have stuck with me through the years. It was designed to test obedience to authority figures. Volunteers (teachers) were assigned to “shock” a learner—a person on the other side of the glass. For every wrong answer the learner gave, they would be shocked in 15-volt increments. The teacher was accompanied by an instructor who would prompt, coercively, the learner to always continue the session, no matter what. The learner on the other side of the glass (who was always noted to have a heart condition) was, in reality, an actor. No shocks were administered in reality, but the learner did not know that. (You can read more details here.)

The study essentially showed how people became Nazis—that the “just following orders” excuse was an unacceptable justification for atrocities. Decent-seeming people were not only complicit, they were active participants, accomplices in committing atrocities. Very few participants in the experiment (the teachers, the ones doing the shocking) halted the horror show. The goading from the teacher was enough to make a person commit the unthinkable—given that they thought the experiment was real. If given the full voltage, the learner effectively died. Ordinary seeming people committed atrocities not unlike those in Germany.

I’ve been thinking about this for days, seeing children torn from their parents. I’ve seen the photographs, and I’ve read the firsthand accounts. I’ve watched the response from different person in our government. I’ve seen a lot of flat out lies. “It’s the law” has become a common refrain, except the policy was only recently implemented by Sessions. Children are currently being used as a bargaining chip (we’ll stop enacting this policy, if the border wall gets funded). Some have even gone so far as to say what’s happening totally isn’t. And damn, that’s one thorough collective hallucination, right?

There are times where people are tested, and I’m afraid this is one of them. Anyone who justifies horrible, unforgivable actions (especially those perpetrated against children) as being some kind of Us vs. Them situation is not someone to be trusted. Children are not bargaining chips. Asylum seekers are not criminals. And playing fast and loose with the emotional wellbeing of parents and minor is unfathomably terrible.

Right now, this is all happening. And it needs to stop. We can be better than this. Remember that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Don’t do nothing. If you have questions, ask me. I’ll try to help.

 

https://twitter.com/Celeste_pewter/status/1008112720434982912

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