Australian Indigenous poet, singer, songwriter Kev Carmody wrote this poem a long time ago, it resurfaced for a tribute album in 2007 and was covered by an Australian band The Herd. This recording is of Kev reading the piece as he wrote it, the words are as powerful now as they were back when he wrote them.
Kev Carmody – Comrade Jesus Christ
He was born in Asia Minor
A colonized Jewish man
His father the village carpenter
Worked wood in his occupied land
He was apprenticed to his father’s trade
His country paid it’s dues
To the colonial Roman conquerors
He was a working-class Jew
Though conceived three months out of wedlock
The stigma never stuck
He began a three year public life
But he never made a buck
Because he spoke out against injustice
Saw that capitalism bled the poor
He attacked self-righteous hypocrites
And he condemned the lawyers’ law
But they’ve commercialised his birthday now
The very people he defied
And they’ve sanctified their system
And claim he’s on their side!
But if he appeared tomorrow
He’d still pay the highest cost
Being a ‘radical agitator’
They’d still nail him to a cross
He’d stand with the down trodden masses
Identify with the weak and oppressed
He’d condemn the hypocrites in church pews
And the affluent, arrogant West
He’d oppose Stalinist totalitarianism
The exploitation of millions by one
And ‘peace’ through mutual terror
And diplomacy from the barrel of a gun
He’d fight with Joe Hill and Waleca
Mandala and Friere
Try to free the third world’s millions
From hunger and despair
He’d stand with the peasants
At the pock-marked walls
They’d haul him in on bail
He’d condemn all forms of apartheid
And he’d rot in their stinking jails.
He’d denounce all dictatorships
And Mammon’s greed
And the exploitation of others for gain
He’d oppose the nuclear madness
And the waging of wars in his name
He’d mix with prostitutes and sinners
Challenge all to cast the first stone
A compassionate agitator
One of the greatest the world has known
He’d condemn all corrupt law and order
Tear man made hierarchies down
He’d see status and titles as dominance
And the politics of greed he’d hound
He’d fight against
The leagues of the Ku Klux Klan
And the radical, racist right
One of the greatest humanitarian socialists
What were the hardest lyrics for you to hear/read?
Where in the reading did you agree the most?
Can you imagine what this Jesus might look like?
Does this Jesus seem familiar?
If you’d like to hear the cover of the song by The Herd, you can hear it here.