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This morning as part of our response to a reflection on Psalm 20, we sang this which has copyright dates of 1987 and 2002.  Written thirty years ago (!) and presumably updated fifteen years ago, yet could equally have been written this week.  Sung to the Geordie folk tune "The Keel Row" it is thought provoking, if not exactly beautiful poetry.

Power stalks the earth both by purpose and accident,

filling with pride those it does not fill with fear.

Power may be hidden or power may be evident,

macro or micro, far off or very near.

Look to the one who has chosen to live without

power to seduce or corrupt or to repel;

learn from the one who refuses to scream or shout,

yet can convince that with him all will be well.


Power of computers to file information may

keep for the few what the many should be told.

Power of the party which governs the nation can

seldom be questioned and rarely be cajoled.

Look to the one who embraces the frightened folk,

those more aware of their wrong than of their right;

learn from the one who will speak for the silenced ones,

hear for the deaf, and provide the blind with sight.


Power of the privileged in talent or parentage

discounts whoever it cannot understand.

Power of the bureaucrat, anxious at every stage,

struggles to keep what's unstructured close at hand.

Look to the one who forgoes his advantages,

sits on the ground with whoever cannot stand;

learn from the one who has known our predicament,

baffled all systems, and lived from mouth to hand.


Power of the press on the button or media

kindles the fuse to a scandal or a bomb;

power of the keeper of secret or confidence

suspects the ones he must keep the secret from.

Look to the one who speaks peace unpretentiously,

defuses hate and is antidote for fears;

learn from the one who accepts, unconditionally,

those whom he summons to share his joy and tears.


John L Bell (born 1949) and Graham Maule (born 1958) © 1987, 2002 WGRG, Iona Community, 4th floor, Savoy House, 140 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3DH, Scotland


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