I tend not to get comments in the comment section of my blog but instead get e-mails about something I have written. I don’t have any quibble with that as it’s nice hearing from folks even when they don’t agree with me.
That said I got an e-mail from someone saying they didn’t understand if my last post was condoning violence or not. I would reply that I feel every option should be used before violence as it should only ever be a last option or it does more damage than good.
A hero of mine is Jim Carey from Chicago who became Padre Guadalupe Carey, who was a Jesuit priest in Honduras. He lived among that countries poor for twenty years. He worked with co-ops on land reform and spoke against U.S. businesses exploiting Latin American workers. Padre Carey preached and used non-violent methods for years. Finally he picked up a machine gun and fought with rebels against the corrupt government of Honduras. He came to realize love sometimes means fighting back. He felt love for your oppressors demands an armed struggle to take the oppressors guns from them by which they are sinning repressing the poor and thus liberate the opponents and the oppressors.
He wrote. ” That to be killed for my following of Christ would be my greatest joy.” He disappeared in the jungles of Honduras in 1983 at age fifty-eight and is rumored to have been killed.
It is not always easy to understand why people might resort to violence unless you have had the same personal experiences. I’m not talking about random acts of violence against innocent victims. I’m talking about situations where people feel they are fighting an injustice and have no other option.
I wrote the following poem when the plant I worked at for 28 years closed in 1999. The Joe (not his real name) in the poem was a fellow worker who had over 30 years in the mill. His son committed suicide in the mid 1990’s and his brother in the late 1980’s. I feared this worker would do what Joe did in the following poem. Many fellow workers and I had a long talk with “Joe” to try and prevent such a thing from happening. Given the injustices and stress we workers had undergone for years I will never condone but am not surprised when I see workplace shootings involving management as the victims.
I give you: Unfinished Business
Damn near 28 years
Joe had given
to the company
along with his knees,
back, and shoulders.
The plant was sold to new owners
every few years who had big plans.
It always meant more concessions
from the already poor workforce
and more corporate welfare
from the local community.
The new owners would always reinstate
the failed methods of the last owners.
First off they’d get
leaner and meaner.
That was always a good way
to drive the stock price up.
You can call it downsizing or right-sizing
but the reality of growing smaller is that
having less workers on the shop floor
means less products out the loading dock door.
Since they eliminated his helper,
Joe now did the work of 2 men.
He roasted in the summer
and froze in the winter.
Not one of the owners ever cared about that
because they’d never actually been in the mill.
So they would not spend money
on air conditioners or heaters.
The workers were treated as pieces of machinery
to be used up then discarded and replaced.
Much to the workers credit they
still took pride in the product they made.
The companies thought only
about their short term goals.
Every owner wanted more and more quantity
and could have cared less about the quality.
In the end the buyers of the product
saw it for the junk it had become.
The plant closed for in the end
no amount of worker’s concessions
will ever save an industry from
bad management decisions.
The workers found they’d never get
their pensions or health care
as the owner had filed
in court for bankruptcy.
Joe came to the office on payday
to pick up his final check.
In the office sat the smug soulless owner
and a bible thumping, backstabbing supervisor
who started out on the shop floor
and slithered his way to the top.
Joe gave them an icy stare
as he put a 357 magnum to his temple
ending five decades of memories
and any future pain.
His fellow broken and battered
union brother and sisters
outside the same office door
all understood Joe’s agony.
Together they shared
the same dark thought,
though no one said it aloud.
They all secretly wished
that when Joe was in that office,
he wouldn’t have been so frugal
with the other bullets in his gun.
Brad Paisley: Welcome to the Future
Kris Kristofferson: In the News
“Poverty is the worst form of violence”~ Mahatma Gandhi