You are a Peacekeeper

YOU ARE A PEACEKEEPER

A. Walter Dorn

You are a peacekeeper.
You stand on the thin blue line between order and anarchy.
You are the symbol of future stability, the hope for an eventual peace, the guarantee of at least a temporary respite to a war-weary people.
Your presence is testimony to humanity’s concern for humanity.

All around is evidence of man’s inhumanity to man:
Shattered windows and walls marked with bullet holes,
Heaps of rubble in which only children could find joy in play.

You are the man or woman in the middle.
You stand with arms outstretched preventing two neighbours from coming to blows.
You hold a bridge between two raging mobs hurling stones and insults at each other.
Without you, they would be exchanging bullets and canon fire.
You hold the strategic ground sought by both sides. 
They respect your presence there because you deny that
very ground to the opposing side, their enemy.
While people push against you and shout in anger, deep down they are truly glad that you are stopping them.
You stand at the edge of the precipice, holding back the avalanche of inhumanity.

You are a soldier without an enemy.  War itself is your opponent.
Your greatest weapon is not your gun, but your integrity, though your gun may be essential.
Your best strategy is to be an example of courage in the face of violence.
Your truest guide is your conscience.
Your worthiest goal is to be a force for justice in the face of injustice.

You are the upholder of the rules in a land where rules are little respected.
You must sometimes draw a line in the sand and say, “this far and no further!”
Your presence is a promise that should not be dismissed lightly,
Your presence is a guarantee that should not be dislodged easily.
After repeated challenge, and in the face of fire,
You must hold firm to keep your dignity and save your mission.
You repel an attack, inflicting the minimum damage to accomplish your goal and render a lesson: you are not to be taken lightly.

You are a peacekeeper.
You have known praise and acclaim.
Some of your commanders and compatriots have risen to national fame.
And others once dishonoured the nation.
But besides this, what is hardest on your conscience
Is the feeling that, despite all your effort, you have not done enough.
Your conscience cries out for a solution to the pitiful conflict,
an end to the insanity, and a return to normalcy.
In this you are not alone. 
You are a peacekeeper among many other peacekeepers.

You are well trained, well educated, and well equipped but never sufficiently prepared, for the task of peace is an onerous and never ending one.
Still you do your best. 
You are the hope of a future peace, the embodiment of dreams of the next generation.
You are a citizen of the world, as well as a citizen of your nation.
You are a peacekeeper and a world keeper.
A servant of the peace and a force for peace,
You are a peacekeeper.

 

 

YOU ARE A PEACEKEEPER. What Do you Do?

A. Walter Dorn

You are a peacekeeper. What do you do?
You are the soldier on patrol along a line of control in an eerie silence during an interlude in the fighting.
You are the sentinel who stands guard in a spot where your predecessor was shot.
You are the mariner who chases the smugglers and gun runners that feed the ravenous jaws of war with weapons of death and destruction.
You are the pilot who is the lifeline to a people, landing humanitarian supplies though a difficult manoeuvre to avoid gun fire on the approach.
You are the mediator who shows that there is a solution to a hopeless conflict.
You are the officer who can talk with all combatants and earn their respect.
You are the enforcer who shows that impunity has its limits.
You are the special forces agent in camouflage paint who plays sniper against the snipers.
You are the medic administering to a dying man in a stretcher.
You are the chaplain who shows that God can be honoured in many ways in a land with no history of religious tolerance or understanding.
You are the kind stranger who brings a parentless crying child to relatives.
You are the fellow human being who offers a shoulder to a tearful refugee.

You are a peacekeeper. What do you do?
You cut your way through the dense jungles of central Africa too carry out reconnaissance.
You squeeze through tunnels in Central America to discover secret arms caches.
You patrol no-man’s land along a green line in Cyprus.
You share a laugh with a resident in Haiti.
You share a tear with a survivor in Rwanda. 
You keep the peace in a land where violence once reigned.

You are a peacekeeper. You help keep a fragile peace. That is what you do.

 

 

W. Dorn, Toronto, 2012.

Based on an earlier poem “You are a Canadian Peacekeeper,” by W. Dorn and published in Thin Blue Line (2006) (pdf).
Portuguese translation: “És soldado de paz.”