Social Justice Poetry

A Man in Dachau | A Social Justice Poem by Neil Creighton

In a dream I saw a man in Dachau
give his last morsel of bread
to one he thought was suffering more.
I heard his thoughts.
“I am no mere plaything of circumstance.
They can take my life but not
the freedom to choose my way.”

I rushed to tell my friends
that choice determines who we are,
proof sufficient being in Dachau
a man chose compassion over self.

One friend replied:
“Noble indeed is such a one.
Heroes make these choices.
The exception though is not the rule.
Choice is circumscribed by circumstance
and eliminated for most by horror of place.”

Another then spoke:
“Oppression’s boot can find the weight
To crush all choice away.
Was that man’s compassion an act of choice?
I rather think it a gift of grace.”

The man from Dachau then appeared
to confirm my friends were right.
“The parade”, he said, “is unendingly long
of those who shuffle by –
starving children, women beaten,
the tortured, guiltless and cruelly oppressed,
the dispossessed, the mind manacled,
the legions of the poor.
I merely do what I must do.
Those who can, should follow.”

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