A spoke in the wheel* – after Dietrich Bonhoeffer – for today…?

Not re-invention, something new.
A rim of steel bound to a wooden hoop.
Stressed by spokes from a hub.
The whole could revolve.
An axle between, harnessed these in pairs.
A frame, a chassis, could bear the weight.
A load could be carried, easily.

Food was transported.
Building materials shifted from place to place.
Loads became heavier, more extreme.
Rolling helped.
Not all things could be hefted.
Shoulder to the wheel lads.

They pushed.

Up the hill and down again.
Down again…they could not hold.
The runaway cart they could not watch.
A hundred metres, fifty, twenty.
Nearer the children till they heard the screams.

Fear.

One person.
That’s all it took.
Spoke in the wheel.

Rumbling.
Clattering.
Shattering.
Splinters

Carnage – averted.

When will they ever learn?

Combustion.
In a chamber.
Piston reciprocating.
A turbine…
Progress? Bigger. Better?
Heftier loads.

Hurdling hedges,
winged now, cloud high.

Is it the mist blinds them?
That turns this glistering gold to dust;
that brings a different cargo now,
tossed over the side to make smithereens of all below?

A spanner in the works would save a life,
ten thousand maybe?

When will they ever learn?

But experience civilised us.
Language helps negotiation.
Jaw jaw, not war war.

The wheels of government turn, unseen.
Not covered by spats like 1930’s sports cars.
Doors close on the truth,
untruth behind the blinds…aptly named.

And rust grows, still the rust gnaws,
the squeals heard
are not really the cries of hungry children.
There is no hunger, do look the other way.

You cannot see the greed and want of power.
We have no intention to dominate and crush.
We must use your gifts carefully
sure not to share with those who might misuse or waste.

Not corruption, this is care,
We must not perpetuate old ills of profligacy.

And out of sight,
Beyond check or balance,
the wheels turn,
and who will break the spokes today?

Who will spoke the wheel…now?
Spin spanners in the works?

Who will scatter now the proud in the imagination of their hearts?

Well who?

Just who?

When will WE ever learn?

© Andrew Pratt 28/1/2020

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor who resisted his government when he recognized, very early and very clearly, the dangers of Hitler’s regime. His first warning about the dangers of a leader who makes an idol of himself came in a radio address delivered in February 1933, just two days after Hitler took office.

In an essay written in that same year, Bonhoeffer stated that the church has the right and responsibility to ask whether the state is fulfilling its duty to preserve justice and order. He wrote that the church has the right and responsibility to aid victims of the state, even if they are not Christians. And that the church has the right and responsibility to jam the spokes of the wheel of the state if it is creating too much or too little law. Jamming the spokes, he wrote, “is not just to bind up the wounds of the victims beneath the wheel but to seize the wheel itself. (Bonhoeffer on Resistance: The Word Against the Wheel, Michael P. DeJonge Oxford, 2018,  P58)

Published by

Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt was born in Paignton, Devon, England in 1948.

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