This week, I cannot write about education, travel, or art. This week I have to address world events. The disaster that is Afghanistan has weighed heavily on my mind and heart. When disturbed and rattled, I usually turn to poetry to make sense of my feelings. I thought and thought about how I could express the immense sadness I feel about our great country, our amazing America. Not our perfect America, but our promising, hopeful America.
Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” and Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too!” reverberated in my head this week. Written in 1867, Whitman’s poem celebrated America’s work ethic. Then in 1926, Hughes’ demanded that Blacks be recognized as an essential part of America. With COVID, racial unrest, discrimination, limited rights and freedoms, rising inflation, the Afghan crisis – America is not singing now. Never, in my lifetime have I felt so frightened and so worried that our country is slipping away. But my strong belief is that America is worth saving, and we must find a way to heal and regain our strength and standing.
I Hear America Weeping I hear America weeping, No longer brave, No longer beautiful, No longer united. Land of industrious immigrants, Once strong and diligent, Now at odds with each other: Masked, unmasked; Vaccinated, not vaccinated; Black brown, red, yellow, white. Great cities burning, Flooded by drugs and violence, Open to looting, and shootings. America, I hang my head Sorrowful and ashamed, Who will heal America? I hear America weeping, No longer noble, No longer resolute, No longer the shining city Upon the hill, Beacon of hope. Once the world leader, Once the honorable democracy, Now disgraced and embarrassed, Open to terror, disorder, and chaos, We have lost the world’s trust, Abandoned our citizens and our allies. We no longer stand for freedom. America, I’m weeping, The eyes of all people Are truly upon us.