The day after 9/11, NPQ published a newsletter to our readers that expressed both the horror and hope that we felt in watching many New Yorkers rush into unimaginable danger for one another. In that newsletter, we included this poem by Pablo Neruda, which we reprint here to act as a reminder of the shared spirit that is at the core of so much of our work in this sector and in our communities. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section below.
Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
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Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
(Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.)
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.