Over All Else

You say we’re fundamentally good,

But mutilated bodies, savage grenades, and gruesome deaths say

Mankind is depraved, still, I agree goodness exists.

People have value beyond feelings, poor decisions, and bygones.

You say we’re made for compassion,

But injustice, genocide, oppression, and evil cry

For a measure of blood, for revenge, for retribution, still I agree.

Because there is no ordinary person. We are each created in God’s image.

You say this event, this moment in history, was a miracle,

But one was imprisoned for a lifetime, four were destroyed beyond recognition,

Yet each chose a new way forward, desired to forgive the perpetrator,

So I agree, because we are made for love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.

You say in this difficult path there is hope for everyone.

Despite judgment, bitterness, hatred, and hurt.

I agree we must resolve ourselves to choose

Life over blood lust, neighbor over self, love over all else.

Over All Else
Copyright © 2023 by J. L. Burrows
Published by Faith Filled Fiction

Background: I wrote this poem as an exercise to help my students write their poems. We are studying how to write inspired poems – poetry inspired by something written or in the world. For this we studied Desmond Tutu’s speech Let South Africa Teach the World to Forgive. The idea behind the exercise is to study the speech and write an original poem inspired by something from the speech, an idea, a thought, a word, or the speech as a whole. I encourage students to write about what they love, to dare to be bad at writing, and to attempt to include the topic of forgiveness and the emotional tone of hopefulness.


J. L. Burrows

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