An ordinary man (so his neighbours said)
Balanced 'small crimes' against moments of goodness
On his life's ledger.
Faced with the fascist principle of absolute obedience,
He kept his job and his life,
Fed his family,
Earned their future,
Closed his eyes to the truth.
Standing mute, he salved his conscience with the lie:
The unthinking respect given to authority makes it unassailable.
A Schindler without the redemptive list.
Over the ensuing decades, he sought escape
From memories and accusers.
Hunted, at the close of each labyrinth path,
Ghosts haunted and fingered him.
He stood judged,
Condemned – a war criminal.
Newsprint of the modern day constructed a reality that ignored
The fear of retribution,
The horror of reprisals
When living in a world ruled by the ruthless self-serving.
Labelled a war criminal,
“I was a silent witness and nothing more,”
Was without meaning in the time vortex.
He had, after all, knowingly profited at the expense of others' lives.
In a world at peace,
I face demands for compromise on matters of principle.
Management, secure in the status that gives them credibility,
Excuse the abuses, justify their inaction,
Spin the facts into an 'alternative truth’.
Colleagues, afraid and demoralised,
Coax the swallowing of the old lie.
School fees met,
Weigh against the blowing of the whistle.
Searching for a maze exit,
In a world compromised by the Robin Hood philosophy
opportunism at tax time
travel expense embellishments
If the scale of a corruption matters rather than the corruption.
Haunted, the question spirals, echoes in my dreamscape.
Taps, knocks, pounds
Until I jolt into wakefulness.
Skinned in sweat,
In the darkness,
Without the distraction of material glitter,
One thing is inescapable.
I know that silence
Classes me with those who stood mute
When faced with greater crimes.
©Christine M Knight