White Guilt

James Garrison

I suffer from white guilt.

Not that I ever did anything to anyone or

that any of my direct ancestors did:

yeoman farmers, craftsmen,

wives birthing until they died or shriveled up,

living off the land, tilling the soil,

cutting the trees, planing the wood.

But maybe they did,

owned slaves, sold babies, separated families.

Or maybe there was only the acquiescence of acceptance,

the support for suppression of others

not of their tribe.

Maybe they were only ordinary Germans,

unknowing of the death camps

but aware of deportations,

of the vitriol and hatred,

of breaking glass and burning books,

of people no longer there.

How do you expiate a collective sin?

Not by burying it, forgetting it,

denying it,

flying the flag of oppression.

When those who committed the sins are gone

and those who suffered are dead

and only the DNA, the blood, continues,

does the sin continue

from generation unto generation?

I think not.

Each generation has its own sins,

each individual his own culpability,

bred from what came before

and embraced

and nurtured

and savored

as her own.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

A graduate of the University of North Carolina and Duke Law School, James Garrison practiced law until returning to his first loves: writing and reading good literature. His novel, QL 4 (TouchPoint Press 2017), set in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War, has won awards for literary and military fiction, and it was a finalist for the 2018 Montaigne Medal. His most recent novel, The Safecracker, a legal thriller, was released in Ebook and paperback by TouchPoint Press on September 27, 2019. His creative nonfiction works and poems have appeared in online magazines and anthologies. Sheila-Na-Gig nominated 'Lost: On the Staten Island Ferry' for a 2018 Pushcart prize.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina and Duke Law School, James Garrison practiced law until returning to his first loves: writing and reading good literature. His novel, QL 4 (TouchPoint Press 2017), set in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War, has won awards for literary and military fiction, and it was a finalist for the 2018 Montaigne Medal. His most recent novel, The Safecracker, a legal thriller, was released in Ebook and paperback by TouchPoint Press on September 27, 2019. His creative nonfiction works and poems have appeared in online magazines and anthologies. Sheila-Na-Gig nominated 'Lost: On the Staten Island Ferry' for a 2018 Pushcart prize.