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Joel Mckerrows Hope For Tomorrow 1

Joel McKerrow’s “Hope For Tomorrow”

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I have heard it said, that the best way to destroy a people is to take away their stories. To make them forget. Get lost in the smallness of their own predicament.

Today it appears as though we have indeed lost ourselves somewhere between the Western dream rat-race and our desire to be part of something larger. Many years ago I made a decision that whatever I do in life I would seek for it to be part of this something larger. To look beyond myself. To draw people beyond themselves.

I began seriously writing and performing poetry several years ago, after five years of running a course in spiritual and identity formation for Young Adults at Tabor College. A large focus of this course was moving young people toward holistic engagement with their faith and with the social issues of the world. To help them both understand themselves and move beyond acts of charity into a lifestyle of justice and advocacy. My poetry has since sought to help people make this exact same movement. To understand their story. To live for a larger story. To remember who they are.

A number of years ago, out of this desire, I founded an organisation called “The Centre for Poetics and Justice”, the work of which took myself and other Melbourne poets into many different communities to help their young people tell their own stories. Through my vocation, as a performance poet and community arts worker, I have since performed and run workshops all over the world. From New York City, Paris, the Sydney Opera House, to sitting in basements of drop-in centres helping the homeless write poetry. No matter the audience, the point is still the same – story reminds us of who we are and what our place in this world can be.

If a people can be destroyed by having their stories taken away, then let us again tell our stories. Remind each other of who we are. By such a telling, may the small stories of our lives begin to be caught up into one that is much larger.

It is out of this desire that I have partnered with Tearfund Australia as an Artist Ambassador. To join with an organisation also focused on helping people remember who they are and moving them beyond just charity into actual lifestyle change. An organisation focused on calling people into the larger story that God is writing. His dream for what the world could be.

Tearfund is part of a movement of people who are remembering the future. Seeking a different tomorrow by acting today. My desire is that this “Hope For Tomorrow" poem would not just stir within us the hope for what may be, but that it may evoke within us the courage to take the small steps in our lives to see it become a reality.

If a people can be destroyed by having their stories taken away, then let us again tell our stories. Remind each other of who we are. By such a telling, may the small stories of our lives begin to be caught up into one that is much larger.

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For Tomorrow

by Joel McKerrow

“I met a man who saw the world differently
sat cross-legged at his feet, and he told me…
remember the past
but cast your eyes forward,
for tomorrow…

our hope shall be a louder voice than our apathy,
our apathy shall finally take a step forward,
our steps forward shall lead us somewhere, mean something, hold meaning like friends hold each other crying, I am crying for this world to change. Tears of empathy and sometimes apathy, I cry today

for tomorrow
even these tears shall be wiped from our faces, lift your cheeks though they are wet, there is one who shall collect them yet, hold them in his hands and call it the ocean, beckon you to set sail, turn your face to the horizon,

for tomorrow
the nooses drawn tight around the necks of the oppressed will be like halos like the saints around their heads, a guiding light for the rest of us, let us, see the way forward comes not through power and politic but through small acts of courage and change, change, change us, like loose coins are never gonna fix this problem so let us go deeper than just charity, change us like sweat shops closing, change us like politicians stop posing, change us like half the women of the world don’t have to be abused, change us like somebody has to stand up

for tomorrow
we shall not just talk of gender equality but rather women who in total work 2/3 of worlds working hours will one day get paid more than just 10% of the world’s income,

for tomorrow
we imagine a day when corners do not exist, those years of muddy lips pressed against white skin, the many times she’d lie under the weight of a man’s insecurity, forced into slavery, fingers that rubbed bruises into her flesh, as the sweat of large men stain her breasts that are the tools of her trade, street worker taking tricks on her corner, imagine a day when corners do not exist.

for tomorrow
the weapons will be piled high, and tanks left dry, drones in the sky no more, we turn their swords into ploughshares, I make a garden from your M16, I irrigate the earth from your death machine and hold out to you a meal for us all to sit at the same table

for tomorrow
Israeli and Palestinian shall sit down and have dinner again, the rich shall eat with the poor, and the oppressor with the oppressed and they shall talk of forgiveness, truth and reconciliation,

for tomorrow
the betrayed shall no longer seek revenge, and revenge shall no longer be found in the dictionary and neither shall poverty, nor infant mortality, nor hungry, nor thirsty, nor children searching through waste dumps, oil pumps leaking the ocean, 21million in slavery no more

for tomorrow we live in colour,
for tomorrow we dance on the streets
for tomorrow we look the other in the eye
for tomorrow we embrace
for tomorrow we are set free

for today WE…
crawl on hands and knees believing the tomorrow we are seeing
stretch our eyes forward, move our limbs, turn our heads toward the sound of liberation,
we wait, and this waiting is an ache, and this ache is a burden,
I ache and this ache is a burden, and this ache is a burden,
heavy and hopeful, this ache is a back scratch never quite reaching that sweet spot,
and so we keep on scratching, we keep on moving, we keep on working,
we keep on crawling, we keep going forward,
we seek for tomorrow by acting today, until this world is as it was always meant to be.”

Joel McKerrow is a performance artist, writer, educator and an Artist Ambassador for Tearfund Australia.