Father, Forgive…

He was a Hutu.
The radio told him that the Tutsis were like cockroaches
and must be destroyed —
he took his machete;
he went to his neighbour’s house.
Father, forgive…

She sheltered her neighbours,
whose children had played with her children;
but then she became afraid for her own family —
she told them they must leave.
Father, forgive…

He was a priest.
The people gathered in his church
to pray for God’s help and to beg for sanctuary;
his Archbishop reminded him of his duty —
he let in the soldiers.
Father, forgive…

He was a UN peacekeeper.
He saw what was happening;
he reported to people in offices far away;
they said “Do nothing —
his hands were tied.
Father, forgive…

She has shares
in a company that sold arms
to the government in Rwanda.
She heard the distant news;
the money still goes into her acount.

And he and she and we must give account
for our complicity in the cruelty
and the cold violence of our world.

Father, forgive us.

Jan Sutch Pickard


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