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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Small Seeds of Hope: I Will Not Fan the Flames

I had various ideas about what I wanted to write this week. But as I thought about it, I realized I felt a strong need to somehow address both the terrible violence that has erupted recently in several of our cities and some of the equally terrible and divisive rhetoric and responses, designed to frighten people and to divide us, as a country, against ourselves.

But I worried about what I could say about any of this. After all, I very consciously stay away from the news most of the time, so I really only know the bare bones of what is going on. I still struggle to understand it all better and to figure out what I can do that might make a difference. So I find myself saying, what do I have to add that could possibly address any aspect of this heartbreak?

And then I remembered a song I wrote several years ago as part of my (unpublished) young adult novel, Before. I think that song may say it better than anything else I can offer. Here’s just a bit of context.

It is sung for a very small group of people at a pivotal time in the story, as two of those present are facing up to having caused serious harm to each other. The reader gets very little explanation or context of what happened to spawn this song, just an indication that Wilson, the composer, a 40-something black musician (who is not one of the two noted above) refuses to carry a gun. And that he and another man who is present exchange looks of great sorrow after Wilson finishes singing this song:

As a child, small hatreds burned me, whipped and churned and spurned me.

‘Til I turned inside, and learned to hide from the rising tide of hatred.

All I wanted was some power,

so I wouldn’t have to cower

in fear of someone’s sour

words and hatred.

I took the power I could find,

thought I’d left the hate behind.

But from a crevice of my mind it crept forward.

It was just a little flame; it seemed so small and tame.

Surely nobody would blame me if it grew.

I claimed it was a game as I fanned that little flame;

a roaring dragon it became—and then it flew.

As it flew it found a brother, then another and another.

And nobody could smother or control it.

It spewed fire and it sprawled, bellowed hatred, then it crawled

And to the horror of us all it found the children.

Hatred came and ate the children, the yearning eager children.

Oh! the crying, screaming children!

burned inside my soul.

As we dug each wretched grave my soul began to crave

a wider world where none are slaves to hatred.

In pain I finally learned, it’s up to me to turn;

with all of me I yearn to see each soul as sacred.

So I will not fan the flames, nor add to years of blame.

No more hatred flying. No more children dying.

I will not fan the flames.

I will not fan the flames.

With each blog post, with each email or other kind of communication, in my relationships, in my daily life, with each I helping to put out the flames, or am I fanning them, even unintentionally? Am I acting and reacting out of fear? Or out of love? It’s a tough road to walk, but can I make a commitment to it? I know I will do it far from perfectly, perhaps slipping fairly often, but I am willing to try.

I will not fan the flames,

nor add to years of blame.

No more hatred flying.

No more children dying.

I will not fan the flames.

I will not fan the flames.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Young boy, Michael Mims, unSplash

Singer, Obie Fernandez, unSplash


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