Echo Eternal update: standing together

Echo Eternal update: standing together

Echo Eternal continues to involve young people of all faiths and none in making a creative and heartfelt response to survivors’ testimonies from the Holocaust and other genocides, this year including Srebrenica and Rwanda.

I worked with students at Arena Academy, Perry Barr and Finham Park, Coventry to write these powerful pieces: ‘The Void’, and ‘Standing Together’ (below). They were beautifully  presented at Echo Eternal Horizons for Holocaust Memorial Day in January.

 

The Void 
It’s full of emptiness and absence. The void.
Millions murdered. All their dreams snatched,
And all their children’s, and their children’s children,
stolen away into silence. The void.

If a boy like me could have lived…
Perhaps he was fourteen,
Perhaps he played football.
Perhaps he dreamed of being a pirate, an astronaut, a doctor.
Perhaps he loved his family, told silly jokes.
Perhaps he wanted to travel the world.

How to count the numbers in the void?
Can we show the scale of the loss
With rice? A single grain is small and quiet.
A million grains? Six million? More?

The silence amplifies the voices in the void.
Echoes where sound cannot reverberate,
A megaphone magnifying silence,
Desolate echoes of the dead, their dreams,
Their prayers, their cries of help swallowed in the silence.

Impossible numbers stolen by the void.
Imagine empty chairs. Six million chairs
And more. How many empty stadiums?
No one’s sitting, but the chairs are not vacant.

An overload of thoughts swirl round the void,
Like footprints of the shoes that once had walked.

If a boy like me could have lived…
Perhaps he was fifteen.
Perhaps he wanted to make his family proud.
Perhaps when he got older, he would have wanted a son like me.
Perhaps he, a man, wanted to dream that dream.

Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen,
Their cries of help whisper in the breeze.
The wind is blowing, no one left to feel it.

The stars upon their hearts can’t fill the void.
Confusing. Unfathomable. Disorientating. Impossible to see
Or count an absence. Can’t think what to write,
I can’t begin to count, or how to say or…

…How to mourn the millions of the void?
We are friends come together to grasp, to echo, to revitalise the memories.
Let’s unite, let’s preserve the trace.
I’ll remember. I will always honour.
I will not scorn. I will not hate.

Standing Together                    
We don’t always see eye to eye,
But standing together,
Shoulder to shoulder,
Your hand in mine,
My heart in yours,
Together we’re different
In so many beautiful ways.

My friends, we are big, small, short, tall,
Old, young, gay, straight,
Wherever we were born,
Whichever book we read,
Whatever God we pray to – or none –
Free to marry who we want to,
You’re like me. Human. Equal!

Hey you at the back, watching injustice.
It’s my job and it’s your job
To defy the majority with the minority.
Let’s not be ‘us and them’.

We stand together, strangers and friends,
Linking bonds, united as one,
Rise up against hate, fighting oppression,
So lies cannot engulf the truth.

We stand together in the simplest of places,
At the match, at school, in a queue for a bus,
Yet we never take note of who we stand by,
What’s their story,
What unites or separates us.

One voice is a small revolution.
Start small, build big. Every voice counts.
Speak out to the world around you,
Let’s block out hate, and love will surround you.

Side by side, we’re hope and strength,
Together with all our faults and mistakes,
Together because we need each other.
Standing together, we ALL have a place.

We don’t always see eye to eye,
But standing together,
Shoulder to shoulder,
Your hand in mine,
My heart in yours,
Together we’re different
In so many beautiful ways.