In the name of memory (a song)

Standard

They say life on a battlefield
Is sink or swim
And only the strong survive

And those of us who survived
We survived
And we say to the next
As they’re standing in line
“We’ve done our time,
now it’s your turn”

We learned our lesson too well
We’ve taken our hell and passed it on
“It will make you strong,”
We say as we turn away

How easy is it to forget
The ones who walked with us, talked with us
The ones we fought alongside
They didn’t survive, they fell

They were as strong as we
But we can’t see this to be so
For it would show how little power
We had in the hour that they died

And we honor our fallen comrades
With a rousing inspirational speech
“You are our successors,” we say
“And there’s no room to be weak
Because life on a battlefield
Is sink or swim
And only the strong survive”

And those of us who survived
We survived
And we say to the next
As they’re standing in line
“We’ve done our time
Now it’s your turn”

We’ve learned our lesson too well
We’ve taken our hell
And passed it on
“It will make you strong,”
We say as we turn away

And how easy it is to forget
The ones who walked with us, talked with us
The ones we fought alongside
They didn’t survive, they fell
Consumed by the hell
We recreate
In the name of memory

(Written several years ago, came to mind in a recent discussion with someone who waxed quite eloquent about the merits of this approach to life. It does have merits, but only for the people who survive it, who usually manage to forget everyone who didn’t.)

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

7 responses »

  1. If I get this right, it’s about that false take on natural selection that seems to permeate everyday life, as far as the non-usually-handicapped see it.

    I wish people would get the natural selection idea right.

    Mostly they don’t.

  2. Yeah, and it’s about how egotistical the human tendency in general is to claim total credit for our successes where others have failed for reasons far more complex than that they weren’t as good as us.  And it’s also about the way that some people go through utter hell, and learn from the experience and stuff, and then think everyone should go through hell as a consequence, rather than trying to stop that kind of utter hell from happening to begin with.

  3. this is really good but i will have to read it several times to get all the ideas out of it (not becos it’s unclear, in fact it isn’t. but poetry is like that).

  4. Lovely, thank you.

    This theme appears in quite a few essays on the Shoah, the Nazi’s attempts at exterminating disabled people, Jews, Rom, et too many cetera.

    A particularly wonderful memoir comes in two parts: If this is a man and The Truce by Primo Levi. Levi demonstrates that the virtuous and moral often succumb in a total institution.

  5. This is really great, as are many of the things you write. I have a few questions of you that I would like to ask sometime. I have a 3 year old son who has ASD and he is in intensive treatment and has made great progress, but there are some things about him that I do not understand- and who not better to ask than someone who has experience with it all….somwtimes we think we have the right answers as to why behaviors start or what drives them- but I am just a parent- I had problems when I was young but not like this…Well anyway i think your site is excellent and you are a gifted writter and I certainly don’t want to lessen your site by my personal selfish questions so mail me sometime if you have time to answer some questions.

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