I just returned from a vacation in Hawaii. More on that in another blog.
But I had a lot of time to think about the terrible event that took place in Charleston a few weeks ago.
Charleston is a city I know fairly well, having lived there for a couple of years and visited it as recently as last April.
It is a city trapped between old and new. Its physical beauty makes it a wonderful place to visit and much has changed for the better in its race relations since the sixties when I lived there. But it has been a slow, gradual change that is of a kind with the pace of life for many. It is, in many respects, an island built between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and it lives in a different time zone.
It was brought abruptly awake by the actions of a racist murderer who betrayed the very core of what should be man’s humanity to man. People who offered love and support were paid in terror and death, in a location that should be a sacred place of peace and love.
There is no way to understand this crushing of the shared bond that is so integral to civilization. We can mourn the loss but it seems we each lose a piece of ourselves when these incidents occur.
The families of those so directly affected have asked for forgiveness and love to replace the anger. It is a hard, wonderful, thing for them to do. And something that is hard for many of us to understand. I know there is a lot of anger out there. I witnessed some of it myself when I was criticized on facebook for not wanting the police to tear this heinous individual apart when he was arrested. It seemed to me, however, that we would be asking the police to do exactly what we have previously criticized them for doing.
We all react differently to these issues and our world seems to grow more violent by the day. I am not sure if it is possible to ratchet it down, but these families have certainly tried to set a good example. I hope that the civil and societal leadership in Charleston gets the message and works to bring the city together in a lasting and meaningful way.
I have been working on a new poem about these events and I include it with this posting.
Here’s hoping for better things in the future.
Glenn K. Currie
(copyright 2015 Glenn K. Currie)
The scent of jasmine and magnolia
Still remind the visitor
That this is a city of the old south.
Words are spoken slowly,
Rolling off the tongue
Like sweet cocktails,
Buried in ice and umbrellas.
It was the city of churches,
Once dominated by its steeples.
But the skyline is changing and
There are holes in the pews
Of this Holy City.
The violence, so often hidden,
Beneath the hoop skirts,
Has exploded in the very place
Where this world sought peace.
The call, unimaginable in its grace,
Is for forgiveness and hope.
But the anger still rises,
Like the heat off the Battery.
Tempers are thin.
The Ashleys and the Coopers
Need to encompass this “Holy City”
With rivers that merge all the souls.