The World’s One Hope – Bertol Brecht

June 19, 2008

The World’s One Hope

Is oppression as old as the moss around ponds?
The moss around ponds is not avoidable.
Perhaps everything I see is natural,
and I am sick and want to remove
what cannot be removed?
I have read songs of the Egyptians,
of their men who built the pyramids.
They complained of their loads
and asked when oppression would cease.
That’s four thousand years ago.
Oppression, it would seem, is like the moss
and unavoidable.

When a child is about to be run down by a car
one pulls it on to the pavement.
Not just the kindly man does that,
to whom they put up monuments.
Anyone pulls the child away from the car.
But here many have been run down,
and many pass by and do nothing.
Is that because it’s so many who are suffering?
Should one not help them
all the more because they are many?
One helps them less. Even the kindly walk past
and after that are as kindly as ever they were before
walking past.

The more there are suffering, then, the more natural
their sufferings appear. Who wants to prevent
the fishes in the sea from getting wet?
And the suffering themselves share this callousness
towards themselves and are lacking in kindness
towards themselves.
It is terrible that human beings
so easily put up with existing conditions,
not only with the sufferings of strangers
but also with their own.
All those who have thought about the bad state of things
refuse to appeal to the compassion of one group of people
for another. But the compassion of the oppressed
for the oppressed is indispensable.
It is the world’s one hope.


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