Will We Give Up Our Souls For “Nation First?” Morning Meditations

When I read this as an American and as a citizen at large on this Earth, all I can think of are the millions of people getting persecuted and the lands being neglected– for being undocumented/uncategorized or categorized and thus pigeonholed into being “other”. All I can think about is the stripping of dignity and the lashings we’ve been complicit in, and the lack of love we have so demonstrated.

I am not saying particular regulations are unnecessary, but should there not be compassion and love for all [regardless of our individual values or duties] grounding our every motive, action, and law?:

“On the final night the weather was stormy. The rain was coming down hard, the rain was heavy, bashing down on top of our little boat. Darkness, darkness everywhere. I saw Parnya. She was sleeping in her mother’s arms. Her mother, Shokoufeh, had also passed out. I saw Parnya’s face under the yellow light from that damn lamp, that weak lamp, the lamp hanging from the ceiling knocking back and forth. I saw her face, which seemed bluish from where I was standing. It seemed she had fallen into an eternal sleep while in her mother’s embrace. The violent waves had beseiged us; they were bent on pulling Parnya into the sea, pulling her together with her mother and her brother, who was also sleeping on his mother’s lap, pulling all of them into the abyss of that dark ocean. The boat was shaking violently. Firouz With the Hazel Eyes (the father/husband) was a thin man, unable to assist his family… terrified, he looked over at them and said, ‘My children are going to die.’ He just cried.

Now they’ve been imprisoned on Nauru. I’m sure Parnya can’t fathom this life of affliction in any way, this life she finds herself in. A life that could break the will of the most macho of mails. She has no idea what the prison was built for, she has no idea why a harmless child has to be there, why a children with no bad intentions has to be held there. She has no idea why she has to be locked up.

The mood of sorrow that has tormented us all over the last few days emerges again/ Once again sorrow bears down oppressively /

Once again the questions smash against the rim of my mind /

Why does the Australian government have to exile little girls of six or seven years old? /

Where in the world do they take children captive and throw them inside a cage? / 

What rime are those children guilty of? /

And thousands more questions that have no answers / 

Thousands more questions that cause me more headaches /

Even greater headaches.




I am on a large ship / 

A ship that resembles a British tanker / 
A ship like the one that rescued us and brought us here /

In the middle of the ocean is a small, vivid, green, and bountiful island /

Encircled by dangerous waves / 

It is rocking / 

The waves are shaking it /

Exactly like that rotting boat from the stormy night / 

The boat that was captured by the belligerent waves in the ocean /

There are little children on that island /

They are terrified /

Their arms are raised /

They are pleading with me for help /

There are tall coconut trees growing on the island / 

The children wrap their arms firmly around the tall, smooth tree trunks / I get closer

Nilou (refugee child, youngest kid of a family he once crossed paths with traversing camps) is there /

She is wearing an outfit patterned with many, many flowers / 

Yellow and red, like the flowers growing next to the coconut tree / 

Parnya (another refugee child he watched from afar and thought fondly of) is also there / 

Standing there with her hair in pigtails /

And there are other children I don’t recognize /


The island is getting smaller and smaller /

The waves are getting higher and higher /

The waves are swallowing up Nilou and the other children / I can only hear their voices /

No matter how I try to dive into these waves, I can’t move / 

Like a stiff nail, I can’t move at all / 


That island submerges into the spinning ring of waves /

The children are still on it / 

The island sinks into the abyss of ocean / 

The coconut trees have linked hands, but they too drown.”

Writings by Behrouz Boochani, refugee, writer, poet and author of No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

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