Thomas Greening

Tom Greening is an existential-humanistic psychologist.  His mentors have included Jim Bugental, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, and Carl Rogers. Greening is also a clinical professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He is a Diplomat in Clinical Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology and a Fellow of four divisions of the American Psychological Association.  Dr. Greening has long supported peace psychology and has been a citizen diplomat with the former Soviet Union.


What is War?

What is war, and whom shall we ask?
Clausewitz gave his bland definition,
nothing but the continuation
of politics by other means,
but he did not then bleed.
The survivors, some of whom did bleed,
and who saw horrors,
did not die,
so even they only know part of it.
Generals, soldiers, medics, politicians, journalists,
historians, women, children, looters
whoever survived does not know all of war.
Only those who lived their final seconds
immersed in it,
whose consciousness
to the very end
was steeped in the cauldron,
grasped the whole truth,
and they arent telling.


Refugee

Take my land, take
the brook where I caught my first fish,
the field my grandfather
cleared of rocks and stones with
a tired mule,
the dirt where my mother
is buried.
I surrender. Take
it all.
I don't want it, you
need it, want it,
kill for it.
I'll abandon my post,
run away, hide.
I'll live on the road
in someone else's country.
I'll buy false papers
or manage with none at all.
I'll join the homeless masses,
the dispossessed, and
I'll be free, while you
are chained to your AK-47.
You'll have a country,
I'll have none.
My hands will be clean
while yours have women's
blood on them.
You'll be a prisoner
of all you have killed and conquered.

But I'll bear the shame
of being a coward.
You'll be the patriot,
the conquering hero.
My critics will say
I'm a fool, that no
child was saved by my submission.
Perhaps they are right.
I know nothing, only that
no cubic foot of land is worth
one slaughtered child.

Published in Fellowship, January 2003


Nacht Und Nebel

"Nacht und Nebel is what the Nazis called
the way they hid the camps,
and there are places now in Poland
where night and fog all day long
block the sun, and apples
grow very small on land
where signs warn the people
not to grow anything at all.
The Chernobyl cloud blew away
but the sun did not return
at noon smoke from good old-fashioned
burning coal keeps me from seeing
the tops of the trees, and the corn
grows less than a foot high.
Mercedes with yellow fog lights
and Bach on their CD players
roar by, occasionally squashing
a stray dog or person,
and when I get to my Munich hotel
I am grateful for the clear TV reception,
the well-stocked refrigerator,
and the white rose on my pillow,
where perhaps I can rest my head
until this all blows over.


Waiting for War, Again

I sit on the edge of my chair,
hold my breath,
wait, pray, fret,
cower and rant.
Human history is proceeding apace
and the species will probably survive
another round of its grotesque evolution.
War has become an equal opportunity event
with women and children, babes and the aged,
just as welcome as soldiers to the slaughter.
Mystics see beyond all this
and find peace.
I stumble around in despair
fearful that I'll step on a mine,
and explode into awareness
that this is actually happening
again.


Hiding from the War

I bought a tree at the nursery
and had them plant it for me.
I bought it to hide the sight
of the big ugly house being built next door.
In other parts of my yard
my older trees do their job well,
and this is how I will avoid
the imminent war.
Green leaves will protect me
from what I can't bear to see.
As a child I played in the woods,
building secret hideouts in the dense foliage.
The Germans never found me,
and I never saw them,
and thus I survived World War II
in New Jersey. But that was before
these modern wars and the new weapons,
and worst of all for people like me,
defoliants.