Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. I was 5 years old and do not remember the black and white television coverage, newspaper headlines, or radio stories from the event. Perhaps I was preparing for my first day of first grade and still innocent of the world, its haters, and the inequity yet to be seen. In my small town, we seemed to grow from the same set of roots, with equal access to resources, and little or no social stratification.

To honor the non-violent philosophy MLK embraced, I share a poem –  a fragment of a profound experience and insight about violence. On the eve of yet another crisis in world politics, which could potentially escalate to more violence, it seems fitting to first look within.


Leaving my “helping others” job, I drive by a Catholic Community Center and see three young boys against the chain link fence.  One is observing.  One is pounding the crap out of another, his right arm, in the form of an “L,” swinging high and plowing into the other’s stomach.   Cars drive by.  Not believing what I am seeing, I stop my car, in the middle of the lane to judge the situation. Of course, the one doing the beating is wrong….right?   A large black pickup comes up behind me and lays on the horn, when he realizes I am stopped.  WHAT THE FUCK!   Don’t you see what is going on here!  I start driving again as the beater runs away.  Quickly, the black pickup passes me on the right and shares the American Mudra – the bird – out his window.  Caught.  In an endless and pervasive cycle of violence that begets violence that begets violence that begets violence. 

Kris Westerson, Nov 25, 2012


Cornelia Parker, Mass (Colder, Darker Matter), 1997

Taken at the Phoenix Art Museum