The power of innocence

Of all things, innocence seems most fragile, as if the best china were the most easily shattered, as if the quietest breath were the most easily snuffed out. We reach clumsily through barbed wire to stroke the newborn. We strain our eyes hard across the great gulf, searching: Where is the child who cannot be killed? Where is the child-in-me who can never die? ''Innocence is stronger than anything else'' you told me. This truth seems at first surprising, for it looks so vulnerable. Yet consider tiny Moses surviving the Nile, surviving tyrant's death orders, then protected by the very throne proclaiming he should not exist! And tiny Jesus, whom powerful Herod could not manage to eliminate with hundreds of strong, disciplined, well-armed soldiers! Mourners: can hatred slaughter the innocents? Nothing is so dead as that without innocence! When it denies innocence, it has no longer a voice, it has no power. Though earth cries and moans with all its apparent evidence to the contrary, innocence cannot be killed. Gradually and inevitably hatred will self-destruct amid tides of remorse and grief. But newborn innocence will surface mightily after this. Someday we will rediscover our spiritual innocence as the secret weapon against all slaughter. ''These are the ridiculous words of a poet!'' I hear a cynic sneer. Yet even in his voice I can hear him crying for his own innocence, his own purity and guilelessness, which seem to him so buried. We may well wade through deep waters of despair and mourning on our way to see all these things. But inevitably, if even very gradually, innocence will overcome us all. We will find a sudden strength of a nature we had never known, or perhaps begin, just begin to remember a nature we have always had.

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