Despair & Disbelief


By Stuart Rees

You can’t help wondering
why the question about cruelty as a priority
of brave men called leaders
of arms industries, governments
and finance corporations
is never posed.

You can’t help wondering
why bestiality is considered
only a preserve of an animal universe
and never enters the thoughts
of brave men called leaders
who cross their chests for human rights.

You can’t help wondering
why history is forgotten
so that only one group of terrorists
are blamed by democratic leaders
armed with guns and righteousness
justifying their brand of punishment.

I am incredulous
that discrimination can be called democratic,
that indiscriminate slaughter
is varnished as targeted killings,
that hostages might be rescued
by the same violence that led to their capture.

I am disbelieving
that sentiments for humanity
are treated like ornaments from an op shop
décor that will not disturb
the murderous goals of those intent
on opposing the next ceasefire resolution.

I am despairing
that slaughter of thousands of women and children
is staged as theatre
for brave men to wage and watch
because their minds cannot escape
the racism that carves an identity
parceled and publicized by media
who also know no other way of thinking.

I despair that a cancer spreads,
that drugs and surgery cannot be used because
exceptional countries are so above the law
that no-one intervenes, genocide continues,
ambulances are forbidden to collect the dying
and my despair cannot be lessened
by protesting in an article
or even by writing this poem.

In response to months of genocide in Gaza and the West Bank written in Vincentia NSW, January 31 2024

Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees AM is a regular New Matilda contributor, an Australian academic and author who is the founder of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia.