Eichman Runs the Pentagon, or Modern Military Madmen

“We cannot choose the arms race and the cold war
and Peace.”

If 60 million Americans
are killed in a day
that is acceptable

but if 80 million Americans
are killed in a day
that may be less acceptable.

Beware the modern Eichmans
in many of us.

Every moment in which we prepare
for nuclear warfare
we choose death
and there comes a time
when preparation demands action.

Soon we will reach
the last time
to make the choice
between destruction and life.

There are people
who really love death.

Unamuno cried out, during the Spanish Civil War,
“Long live death.”
I cannot tolerate
this senseless
and necrophilous shout.

is only a word.

Freeing one’s self
is a constant action
our freedom changes
with every action
as choices change
when the chess game begins
until one is forced to resign.

is a function
of character.

Thinking requires
a healthy suspicion,
even cynicism

The art of living
is a difficult thing;
our general mood
is not geared to reality.

To say Yes to Peace
is to say No
to the Arms Race.

— Dennis Brutus
November 18, 1980

South African poet and journalist Dennis Brutus was banned from all social activity after protesting the apartheid government. He was arrested in 1963 for breaking that ban (he was not allowed to meet with more than two people at a time) and sentenced to 18 months in jail. He escaped while out on bail, but was re-arrested and shot in the back during a subsequent escape attempt. He was then sentenced to 16 months of hard labor on Robben Island. Brutus wrote this poem about a white crowd that attacked black protesters at the Johannesburg City Hall after the passage of the General Law Amendment Act (Sabotage Bill) in May 1962.