Obedience*

Why didn’t we know
that obedience meant
listening intently? Why
was it a hammer crash-
ing down on the heads
of so many? Why didn’t
we listen to the screams
at Wounded Knee? Why
didn’t we listen intently
to the mournful echoes
of voices singing of op-
pression and hope — soul-
ful sounds echoing down
through generations in
the fields — voices told
to be obedient or suffer
the brutality of the whip?
Why didn’t we listen in-
tently to the beautiful
soprano and alto voices
in harmony singing for
equality? Why did we mis-
use the word obedient to
make others buckle to our
tone-deaf ears, brutal
hands and violent hearts?
Why were we not obedient
to the call for justice,
mercy and peace? Why?

* “The word obedience comes
from the Latin word ob-audire,
which means ‘to listen with
great attentiveness.'” — from
a meditation by Henry Nouwen.

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