Psalm 16: A Brief for the Defense

Jun 8, 2011  |  Videos

How can one enjoy joy, and celebrate life when there is so much suffering? It’s actually our responsibility to do so.

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Poem: A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving
someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The
Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women at
the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and
the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the
village is very sick. There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of
Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance
of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not
enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the
ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our
attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the
end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship anchored late at night in the
tiny port looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront is three
shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out
and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.
— Jack Gilbert

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All images used under Creative Commons license.
Image credits in order of appearance:
D. Sharon Pruitt
Joanne Q. Escober
Ubo Pakes
Ibrahim Lujaz
Ariful H Bhuiyan
Living In Kuito
Anant Rohankar
James Emery
Hamed Sabar
Clemson
Lisa Edwards
Pranav
Pedro Simoes
Ubo Pakes

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