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Why, Oh Why

Why, Oh Why

A personal reflection on recent events.

In recent months I have been to four funerals,

All of them close friends I have known for many years,

People I respected, and in some cases loved;

People who had all led rich and fulfilling lives,

All loved by family, successful in business,

And who had all served their local communities,

Enriching others through voluntary service,

Often going the extra mile for no reward

Other than the satisfaction of grateful smiles.

Every day we learn in the news of other deaths,

Of lives tragically lost through no fault of their own

Other than that they chanced to be in the wrong place,

And at the wrong time, merely victims of events

They could not have foreseen and beyond their control.

In my own country society has been shocked

By terrorist massacres that have claimed the lives

Of more than a score of innocent bystanders,

And just last week a horrifying inferno

In a residential tower block in London,

Where the death toll of some of the poorest people

In that city of great wealth is nearly eighty,

And where many more are still unaccounted for.


In such awful circumstances we feel helpless,

And in our confusion look for someone to blame,

But too often we fail to reflect thoughtfully

On the flawed nature of modern society,

For which we all share some responsibility —

Growing inequality between rich and poor

And an unfair distribution of resources;

The venality and greed of wealthy bankers;

Austerity that means that people die too soon

While the rich find ways to avoid paying taxes;

Lack of investment in local communities

And neglect of reasonable safety standards;

The brutal indifference of officialdom

To the lives of the poorest in society;

The ignorance that leads to xenophobia

And the irrational fear of those not like us;

A media that inflames division and fear,

Which is controlled by a few unelected moguls

With no respect for opposing views about life.

The list of all that is corrupt and distorted 

In our dysfunctional so called democracy

Grows by the day, with seemingly no end in sight.


Society’s ills are not inevitable,

And so much that is evil could be prevented,

But it is no longer enough just to ask why

When we read about the latest atrocity,

And then retreat back to our comfortable lives,

After sending a suitable donation of course.

Each one of us must be prepared to play our part,

Because we are all accountable in the end.

But it would be wrong of me to preach to others,

Without reflecting about my own attitudes

And taking my share of responsibility

For the society of which I am a part.

As I approach the age of three score years and ten,

Thoughts of my own death increasingly cross my mind,

Although I desire to live for many more years.

When the time finally comes to draw my last breath

And I have to say goodbye to all those I love;

As I face alone the ebbing of consciousness,

I hope that the judgement of the way I have lived

Will not be too severe, and that I will depart

Knowing that I have done my best to help others

And cared for those less fortunate than I have been.


This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © 2020 by Keith Paver

All rights reserved, including all copyrights and all other intellectual property rights in the contents hereof.

The compositions and contents herein are not to be copied, reproduced, printed, published, posted, displayed, incorporated, stored in or scanned into a retrieval system or database, transmitted, broadcast, bartered or sold, in whole or in part without the prior express written permission of the sole author. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited and is an infringement of National and International Copyright laws.

All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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