Saturday, September 21, 2013


"peace in the city"--painting by simeon gonzales


Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift.”
--Pope Benedict XVI

We have been told & taught many things about
the principles of peace--that every one of us
carries an innate genetic trait to seek freedom
first in order to extol the virtuous dignity of all
rational beings, becoming someone who embraces
both beatitudes & existentialism, with a willingness
to accept sacred responsibility for our own actions;

as the plastic smiles of beauty contestants freeze
their faces, standing there under the hot lights in bikinis,
wishing for “World peace in our time”,

even as we rise from our fitful slumber on this
September 21st, this International Day of Peace,
knowing full well that august body of the
UN General Assembly piously proclaimed
this Day in 2002, yet

the television news blares over my breakfast
that a vicious gang of Somalian gunmen
have just attacked innocent civilians at
a shopping Mall in Kenya, killing dozens,
wounding hundreds, and the egregious echo
of a madman’s shotgun that slew 14 people
and wounded 50 at the Washington Navy Yard
is still ricocheting in my head & heart,

so once more I am callously confronted with
the ancient perpetual dissonance, that peace
surely is not a utopian dream, that it is possible,
albeit transient as distinct dystopian notes
alternate within the blipping beat of the
wondrous symphonic cacophony playing
loudly outside all of our windows today;

for we clearly see the actual price of technological
globalization, & witness the violent conflicts,
the threats of war, glacial shrinkage, ocean pollution,
congressional partisan bickering, escalating urban
crime rates, international police & military murdering
protesters, the truncated state of our cost of living,

and we just wonder exactly how should we celebrate
this Day--perhaps promote peace within ourselves
& with our neighbors & with the earth itself? I mean
how do we lovingly & peacefully confront the blatant
inequality between the rich & poor, terrorism,
international crime, genocide--as fundamentalism
& fanaticism darkly distorts the true nature
of our familial, educational, & religious teachings?

The Dali Lama, the Pope, priests & presidents tell us
that all we need is Love, but hell, at the same time
we must keep in mind that anyone who loves peace
cannot tolerate attacks & crimes against life, liberty,
and the God-given pursuit of happiness, that yes,
potentially within every person there is a genuine
desire for peace as an essential aspiration
that will lead to a full & happy life--and that we must
always pursue the common good, the whole man,
for we are, after all, just one human family. 

A very tall order, wishful thinking, a blessed yet
tentative beatitude, a correct assumption, the right 
road--sure, yeah, damn rights, but

my neighbor’s stupid dog still needs a bullet to quell
its incessant barking, my boss is still a bilious bully,
too many women are still raped & battered behind
closed doors, and CNN still informs me of 
more chaos,
more injustice, 
more heartbreaks, 
more hypocrisy,
more dishonesty,
more dangers,
more in-climate weather

that can be expected in the hours to come,
so the irony of today’s global celebrations
mixes freely with the frothy milk on my cornflakes,
and my smile is as much sadness as hope,
twisting my wet lips

Glenn Buttkus

September 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this peaceful poem to you?


Mary said...

You have made some good points here, Glenn. Perhaps the best thing we CAN do is to find a way to achieve peace within ourselves...or do something in even a small way that fosters peace in one's community.

So true that everyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks; and the question definitely is what do peace lovers do with such attacks? I don't think either we can just turn the other cheek in the light of such blatant wrong. But what is the answer? I guess we all continue to search.

Thanks for your thought-provoking write, Glenn. Happy International Day of Peace to you.

Claudia said...

isn't it fun that we sometimes shout so loudly for world peace but then in the things and with people around us act so unpeaceful... kinda paradox.. great take glenn

Brian Miller said...

anyone who loves peace can not tolerate attacks...this is the great conundrum you know.... how do you get there? become as brutal as those who abhor peace...we have not figured that out for sure...def a conundrum...

Björn said...

Love is not enough to get peace.. primarily we have to avoid hate and shunning... My first hope for ages is some words from the new pope that brings hope... wonder if there will be a new global cry for peace.

Anonymous said...

If we seek peace in the absence of war/noise/injustice etc then we're looking in the wrong place - aiming at the worng things. Peace will most likely be found in presence; being present for the other, listening respectfully to her/him without wanting to argue that we're right.

If we'd spent as much on justice and dealing with global poverty as we have on arms, then poverty would be a thing of the past and the world would definitely be a more just and peaceful place.

Grace said...

It is impossible to solve the world problems and global issues ~ I think the best we can do is be a peackmaker in our own home & community ~ It's a start surely ~

Anonymous said...

"Peace, an utopian dream!". Hmm.... peacemaking i think is a collective responsibility! Its starts with individuality though! Good read

Victoria said...

There is a lot of insight in this, Glenn. It reads to me like a discourse that the Dali Lama or the Pope might give. Unless we work for peace within ourselves and within our families and small social groups, the wish for world peace is an illusion. Our recent history (the 20th C. and this one so far)is so rift with war. Having been born during WWII it seems like peace is a pipe dream and yet...we continue to wish and pray.

Laurie Kolp said...

I just don't watch anything but the local news anymore. It makes me sick. Cornflakes, eh?

Manicddaily said...

So difficult to figure these issues out. To some degree one does have to tolerate attacks to have peace--I kind of think--although there can be attacks on others there, and that's not so great! I mean it's one thing to be like Gandhi for one's self--another for others. All complex and your poem deals with that. Thanks. k.

kaykuala said...

Contrary to the intention and the reasons, peace overtures result in more conflicts! Very thoughtful thoughts Glenn! As always your take is exhaustively analysed to be shared! Great!


Katie said...

Love this poem! Fuckin' irony!

Liz Rice-Sosne said...

You are right. So right. But your poem made me think. Maybe I should practice one act of peace each day going forth from today on. Maybe.

scotthastiepoet said...

'my smile is as much sadness as hope,
twisting my wet lips

Very nice Glenn - with Best Wishes Scott