Woe Unto You

by Akoli Penoukou

Woe unto you, liberty shouters, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You bang freedom’s and justice’s doors in people’s faces,
Neither entering yourselves
Nor allowing those who want to enter go in.

Woe unto you, freedom shouters, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You allow the bombing of the Poor’s shelters
And pretend to be innocent by issuing condemnation: 
Therefore yours would be the greater punishment.

Woe unto you, justice shouters, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You pound sea and land and sky to win converts
And when you succeed, you make them sourer
To his fellows’ taste than you yourselves are.

Woe unto you, blind guides!
Who teach: Whoever shall make advances to the sickle
Is a criminal, but who swears to the star shall be
Guided, while you make converts stumble and fall!

Blind fools!
Which is more important,
The hammer which shatters the fetters
Or the stripes which bind them together?

For whoever flirts with the Satan
Does so because it is safer to play
With the devil which acted the Good Samaritan
Than with the Angel which is a Pharisee.

You shout: we love equality
Yet you keep and help to keep millions in bondage.
How blind you are! Which is important,
Shouting justice or acting justice?

For who swears to uphold democracy
And universally acts contrary to democratic principles
Is as guilty –even more so – of being tyrannical 
As the one who fails to practise democracy.

Woe unto you, law teachers, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You pay the correct dues at home
And omit the important matter of international solidarity
Such as justice, freedom, equality, mercy and honesty. 

These you should practise, without neglecting the others
Blind guides!
You strain a fly out of your drink
And swallow a camel with it.

Woe unto you, law teachers, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You clean the outside of your cup and plate
While the inside brim with what you have extorted
By violence, greed, stealth and selfishness.

Blind Pharisee!
Clean what is inside the cup first,
And then the outside would be clean too
And no more fingers would be pointed at you.

Woe unto you, law teachers, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You are like whitewashed tombs
Which look beautiful on the outside
But inside are full of decaying corpses and bones.

In the same way, oh you Pharisees,
You present a good façade to the world
But your hearts are full of sins and hypocrisy:
You shall fall into your own wicked traps.

Woe unto you, law teachers, Pharisees, hypocrites!
You make fine tombs for those your hypocrisy killed
And decorate the monuments of our assassinated prophets
And say if you had lived at the time of your ancestors,

You would not have joined them in this cruelty.
So you actually admit that you are descendants 
Of those who murdered the worthy lives.
Go on then and finish the diabolical acts of your fathers!

You snakes and sons of snakes!
How do you expect to be saved from the conflagration?
Since after your fathers came prophets, sages and the poor;
Some of them you murdered, others you overthrew.

And some you persecuted in your cities
And many more will have to suffer and die.
You take away bread from the poor and the helpless
And pretend to mourn with the bereaved!

And so the revenge of the blood of all innocent men,
From the murder of innocent Abel
To the defenceless you help massacre in oppressed lands
Shall be upon you in this generation!

Babylon, Babylon, you who kill the dreamers
And halt the march to self-reliance everywhere
How often should men try to clear the speck in your eye
And you would hide your face, and wipe them out!

And so your land will be plagued and left empty
From now on you will never see a saviour again
Until outsiders rock you on your hypocritical chair
And you admit: Blessed are those who fight for equality!
(Adapted from Matthew 23: 13-39)

Woe Unto You by Akoli Penoukou

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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