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A Brave and Startling Truth


We, this people on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through causal space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us


It is possible and imperative that we discover
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking


When we realease our fingers
From fists of hostility
And alow the pure air to cool our palms
When we come to it


When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters


Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign lands
When the rapacious storming of churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased


When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tramble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze
When we come to it


When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged may walk into evenings of peace


When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse


When we come to it
Thenwe will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Not the Garden of Babylon


Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled in delicious color


By Western sunsets
Not the Danube flowing in its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the rising sun


Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mssissippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world
When we come to it


We, this people, on this miniscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade, the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter


In whose mouths abide cantankerous words
Which challenge our existance
Yet out of those same mouths
Can come songs of such exquisite sweetness


That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon


That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend


Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils or divines
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body


Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety


And without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonders of this world


That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Written by Maya Angelou

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