Slow Violence

Oh how the planet bleeds


Oh how the planet bleeds

as we bleed the planet dry

Oh how humanity feeds

as the planet slowly dies

Oh what a slow death

as the heartbeat fades away

Oh the cruelty of desire

as humanity has its say

For what is humane about this violence?

What will it take to make them see?

That the very door that leads to life

They lock up! And throw away the key.

Like a monster they devour

Hour, after hour, after hour

Oh how the planet bleeds,

Soon generations will bleed with it….


“Oh, How the Planet Bleeds” 

A fisherman fills his cupped palms with water from the algae-filled Chaohu Lake in Hefei

Mankind seems to have a notion-a notion that if we stay safe and tucked away in comfort, under our veils of denial and ignorance, then the casualties do not exist, or matter. As the planet dies a slow and sudden death, we continue, and destroy. The darkness of this notion is, the hidden deceit that moves like a shadow which is referred to as the “invisibility of violence” (Nixon 2011:2).  The difficulty comes in that these casualties are “cataclysmic…in which casualties are postponed, often for generations” (Nixon 2011:3).  The future generations will suffer. That is why, the following narrative, is focused on this violence that is “neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive” (Nixon 2011:2), vibrating into the bloodline of the planet and humanity-water.

That Which Gives Life, Gives Death


Slow violence occurs on an almost microscopic level. The water systems in South Africa carry around terrible diseases, which threaten the lives of people who do not have access to clean water. The consequences, essentially, of this slow violence, is that as it enters into the immune system, it slowly kills it, cell for cell, day by day. It flows from the bloodline of the earth, the water, into the bloodstream of the victims, slowly killing them, as they fade into unimportance.

The Veil of Ignorance 


The root behind this slow violence is ignorance. Simply due to the fact that just as people have issues looking into themselves and taking responsibility, so no one wants to pick up the pieces of the broken earth. Water symbolizes life, healing and blessings. But if it is perverted, neglected and used as a dumping stream for the anthropocene, it spreads into the lives of those with very limited choices. The truth of the matter is that a large part of  people in the world have orphan spirits, and loss, and these things always spread into others parts of the world, such as the environment, but ends in a full circle, back to those who drink the water.

Better than cure…

The Waste Land Cover 5.jpg

See a future, where soot becomes the air we breath. Where brown-shaded water, is considered a blessing. The new Mad Max: Fury Road movie that came out recently, showed how a dystopian future will look like, where water is used as a means of control, and is seen as a rare resource. That is the base of the matter isn’t it? We value water just as much as we value ourselves, which is unfortunately most of the time, not much.

To conclude, (from Oh How the Earth Bleeds, final two couplets)

Alas! I declare- Let the heroes rise and wake,

To heal the earth, for the future generation’s sake

No more blood, destruction or death

Let us not take for granted, our precious life and breath.

Unless we do our parts, nothing will change. But it take more, it takes an artistic generation of writers, to stand up for the people who have faded away into the invisible shafts of slow violence. Don’t let the planet, and those living in the areas with this toxic water, mirror this image of someone being ripped apart by something which is suppose to symbolize life. Because, after all, we have the power to destroy, and create…


Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s: The Wasteland


Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press


Action Against Hunger, 2016. World Water Day 2016. [O]. Available:

Accessed 23 April 2016.


Avex News. 2016. Water Pollution in China. [O]. Available:

Accessed 23 April 2016.


Celeste, 2010. Death by Water. [O]. Available:

Accessed 23 April 2016.


Severynse, W. 2016.. Dirty Water in the World. [O]. Available:

Accessed 23 April 2016.


The Water Project, 2016. Improve Health in Africa. [O]. Available:

Accessed 23 April 2016.


UNICEF, 2016. Water and Sanitation. [O]. Available:

Accessed 23 April 2016.