APLN Pacific Islands Creative Competition 2022 Winner
The Elephant in the Room
By Mere Tuilau
Swallowing my mixed em(Ocean),
I stood up and said
Excuse me, I need some air.
With thoughts rushing,
I burst into tears on my way through the hallways
and into the bathroom to hide myself …
in the name of “diplomacy”
What is relationship without principles?
Without it’s values?
What is history without evidence ?
What are humans without feelings ?
What is hurt without it’s wound?
What are lessons without learning?
What are we, without each other?
How can we look at Britain, France and the US in the eye and have historical amnesia?
Or how can the devil’s empire look at us in the eye and say “For the Good of Mankind”?
Thoughts of my ancestors crying,
Mother screaming in the delivery room
My family in crisis
My emOcean drowning
Not him, not her, not them, but us.
US who carries the weight,
the burden of proof,
To prove the suffering,
the biggest aggression of our lives.
Where our tears and sacrifices are being politicized
Where Love is being tested
Where hearing is being tested
Where humanity is being tested
Hear us in our rawest self.
Hear us to hear our ancestors cry freely
Hear us to let our generation live freely
A future where we can dream freely
Na numa noqu Waitui.
We look back to look forward
We look back to pause
We look back to set sail
The Ocean creates lives
The Ocean hubs lives
And the Ocean is live
Protect our Waitui.
“Art is in the eye of the behold” ~Margaret Wolfe Hungerford
(The artists would like to keep the art piece open to interpretation.)
Artwork by: yDISARM Pacific – ICAN New Zealand
At one of the conferences I attended, I was asked not to address “the elephant in the room” in the name of “diplomacy.” So I named this piece “The elephant in the room.”
About the Competition Winner
Mere Tuilau is a rights activist, facilitator and a youth leader from Fiji. Her advocacy on self-determination, nuclear and ocean spaces comes from over seven years of lived experience of engagement with Pacific youths and within regional civil society organisations and movements. Mere’s passion is in supporting and encouraging young people as stewards of the vast Pacific Ocean, a testament of the call to safeguard, guide and determine their destiny, and to navigate their narratives until the people of Oceania are fully free.
Thumbnail image: “Climate Elephant” by Daniel Dancer, 350.org.