Tell Them Never Be Silent

by Mary La Rosa

Dissident Voice
February 27, 2003




Dear Dissident Voice,


Annie Higgins and I have a correspondence. Recently, we have been writing about her letters concerning the targeting and deaths of civilian Peace workers and the lack of credibility shereceives from mainstream media about life and death conditions in Jenin, Occupied Palestine.  To add further insult to her integrity, her words and phrases are sometimes removed in order to slant and portray a different perspective other than the reality in which she and many innocent people live and die.


At this distance, it is no heroic effort on my part to lend encouragement.


Yet, Annie Higgins is grateful for my petite friendship and support. She claims that such notes are "little reminders that someone listens and cares".


When I answered her last letter with part of what I wrote below, she wrote back telling me to send my "poem" to you. It was not such a poem then. But, even at this distance, her wisdom and directive about responsibilities took hold and have a grip on my heart.


My poesie is so small compared to the importance of it, not as a poem, but a reminder to the world that in these treacherous times, there are those whose ONLY protection is words.  And words are now at risk!


Annie's weapons are her words and sometimes her words have been manipulated to suit the needs of those who wish to deny the truth about civilian targeting in Occupied Palestine.


We must all fight like partisans with our words and shame the "slant" out

of mainstream media.


Here is my poem for Annie: Tell Them Never Be Silent


From Jenin

Occupied Palestine

came this letter

from a friend of mine:


Annie says

People here often say:


         Who will listen?


         Nobody us.


  Annie answers:


       Each of us still has

        responsibility to speak

        in spite of deaf ears.


I write

Dear friend in Palestine


        Tell everyone:


        When no one listens to you speak

        do NOT resign

        yourself in silence.


We must learn to speak better and together.


We must learn to whisper as well as shout.


We must learn the subtle timing of both.


We must learn to speak in a universal:


       To speak individually but in one clear voice.


In chorus

when one voice falls weak

other voices carry the tune

and the harmony.


But mostly

we must find the way

to sing with joy again.


for the children.



if we do not sing for them

in joy together

they will not know how

by our example.


What will our silence teach them?

will it teach truth? when there are


will it teach beauty? when there is


will it teach hope? when there is


will it teach courage? when there is


will it teach peace? when there is


will it teach love ? when there is



If we are silent

someone else

is always ready to speak for us

     to tell us

     what we mean

     to tell us

     how we feel


If we are silent

    the Monsters may learn

    to use another voice

    and the children will think

    that is our voice.


And if the Monsters

raise the children

the children will become like them.


And so

We must try

our hardest

to prevail:


Never be Silent.



2/23/03    Mary La Rosa




[Annie Higgins specializes in Arabic and Islamic studies, and is currently

doing research in Jenin, Occupied Palestine.]


Mary La Rosa is a librarian and an artist living 20 miles from NYC. She

longs for the day when the most important thing she writes to Annie about

is songbirds and Meerkats.





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