March 21 was both the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and World Poetry Day, both proclaimed and celebrated by the United Nations.
According to the UN, “Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. The UN recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind….(and) support(s) linguistic diversity through poetic expression.”
On the UN’s 50th anniversary in 1995, Dr. Maya Angelou read her poem “A Brave and Startling Truth.” This is a poem Dr. Angelou dedicated to “the hope for peace, which lies, sometimes hidden, in every heart.” In fact, it’s so prophetic, and profound, it was included on the first test flight of the Orion spacecraft, which is a vehicle designed to help humanity explore the deeper reaches of the solar system.
The poem explores the tension between the unique fragility of this planet, this small blue dot in space, and the sometimes hellish, sometimes inspired behavior of its human citizens. It reads, in part:
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
Of course, when - and how - we come to it, when we come to caring for the world and each other, when we bring peace to the land...is the tricky part. But that’s really what NurseGrown Organics’ mission to educate, support and empower consumers while promoting sustainable, organic agriculture through affordable, premium Vermont hemp products is all about.
With much less flair than Dr. Angelou, here is another short and simple poem that sparked a blog I wrote for Black history month on Racism And Cannabis, which talks about the no-so-short-or-simple problem that continues to plague both the planet and the cannabis plant:
You should know about cannabis’s racist history
If you want to know about CBD and THC
Systemic racism and white supremacy are still enormous problems that we’re only just beginning to learn how to address. Though we may not have as much poetic flair, fame, or reach as Dr. Angelou, it is still up to us all to do our own small part to help call attention to and dismantle racial injustice - both within ourselves and in our systems and institutions.
Whether it’s sharing a silly little poem, writing a blog, or shouting from the rooftops, we all need to do our part. Even without Dr. Angelou’s eloquence and power, we still can make a difference, one person at a time. Sometimes that means confronting a family member, friend, or co-worker about their unconscious biases or actively problematic behavior. And sometimes, it means easing the pain of the unfairly and unjustly victimized.
To that end please consider joining NurseGrown in our initiative to support The Last Prisoner Project’s letter writing program. You can send one letter, one card, one poem. One incarcerated person at a time, we can help them feel our love, and remind them that they are not forgotten.
That is poetry of the heart!
Thumbnail by Neel on Unsplash
Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash