You Be The Judge

Just a reflection on what it means to see and be blind.

True story. Wrote this sitting next to the very same man I was writing about. He never knew, and probably never will. 


“You Be The Judge”


Once upon a time as I was on the metro
Just on my way home from downtown, you know?
I noticed a man across of me, wordlessly moving his lips
Talking in silence, his head slightly atilt.

He clumsily stares around, seeming very engaged
As he taps his pale fingers across a white page
A page with no words, no color or meaning
His eyes are bloodshot, with no sign of feeling.

I thought, is this guy confused?
Who is he communicating to?
Holding so many white pages of a book…
It made no sense, so I took another look.

Now, if you saw someone like him,
Staring across with neither frown nor grin,
Silently talking with so much energy,
His eyes red as if from an allergy–

Wouldn’t you first think he was mindless?
Or out of the present moment, no less
Might you initially have come up with some grudge
For a fleeting one second, if you were the judge?

If I were the judge… And so I was
And it turned out I was wrong, because–
Because there was more to the picture than I could see
I just hadn’t looked at it all completely.

You see, when my eyes, once more, looked down at his book
When I took the time to have that important second look
I realized the white pages were empty of words, indeed
Yet they were full of bumps and small shapes to read…

You be the judge… Cuz as a judge I failed
To realize that this man was actually reading… Brail!
He was a blind man, empty of sight
Yet, ironically, I was the one who couldn’t see it right.

You be the judge… who was blind in this case?
The one who read in peace, or the one who judged in haste?
He was a blind man, empty of sight
Yet with my own visual eyes (plus glasses!), I was the one who couldn’t see right.

And it got me thinking– what do so many of us see?
For is all we see truly a reality?
Is seeing falsehood, a form of vision?
Or could we only be living a life of illusion?

You be the judge… ask yourself, what does sight do?
Simple answer is, it gives you shapes and colors around you
Doesn’t that sound trivial, and oh-so-nothing?
Yet if sight vanished, life could be crushing.

You be the judge… Now let’s be honest
Don’t you love to see the faces of those you are fondest?
Don’t you love to see the moon, the sun and the sky?
Don’t you love to look down when you’re up so high?

You be the judge… but judge only yourself
Have you acknowledged the gift of sight to yourself?
Have you ever said, “Thank You God,  thank you Allah for letting me see
The faces of my friends and beloved family”?

You be the judge… Imagine this now
Your sight vanishes overnight, somehow
The world is in darkness during night and day
And you think your life can’t get more dismayed.

You be the judge… Is the world really dark?
Or it is merely because you won’t acknowledge the sparks?
Does it make a difference if one can actually physically see
But still won’t acknowledge the blessings of reality?

Is this poem getting confusing? Perhaps it is
So being the Aya Salah I am, I’ll get down to business
I’ll strike one last example, and you can decide
Who is the blind one, and who sees the light.

Here is an example of a vengeful man
Who uses his eyes to target, kill and slay
And prevents innocent people from seeing another sunny day
His heart is clouded with ignorance, selfishness, greed and hate
Causing the oppression in the world to simply inflate.

And… another man holds his cane, and taps the wall
So that he doesn’t trip another human and cause him to fall
His heart is enlightened with hope and life
Because he knows, he is certain, that the All-Merciful One, will help him in every strife.

Now… You Be The Judge
And try not to misjudge…

What use is sight
If we don’t -or rather won’t- see things right?
What use is vision
If we use it for suppression?
What use are our eyes
If they look down at others with despise?
What use is a blessing
If we use it as a cursing?

Who is more blind, the one who is sightless by fate or the one by will?
Who is more disabled, the one who leaves things as they are
Or the one who causes the world to go downhill?
How about those who lie, slander, hurt, put down, insult, backbite and hold pathetic grudges?
I won’t bother answering because I already gave you the title:
You Be The Judges.


Fall 2010

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