The Common Good


091005-solo-le-pido-a-diosArgentinian singer Mercedes Sosa died yesterday. I don't know much about her life, so you can join me in reading her Wikipedia entry. But what I do know is that she's one of the best-known performers of Leon Gieco's heart-rending anti-war song, "Sólo le Pido a Dios."

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I was introduced to this song while traveling in Colombia in February 2003. At the end of a two-week trip focusing on Colombian churches' persecution by all sides of that country's armed conflict, I was also privileged to march with peace activists participating in global protests of the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq. Members of the Bogota University's Christian Student Union led marchers in this song, which almost never fails to bring a lump to my throat. It strikes at the heart of what many of us who do not actually live in war zones must be especially active in resisting -- as body counts from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere become routine and conscience-numbing: "All I ask of God, is that the war not make me indifferent."

You can listen to the song here, and I'll post the lyrics (plus a highly imperfect English translation) below:

Solo le pido a Dios
Que el dolor no me sea indiferente
Que la reseca muerte no me encuentre
Vacio y solo sin haber echo lo suficiente

Solo le pido a Dios
Que lo injusto no me sea indiferente
Que no me abofeteen la otra mejilla
Despues que una garra me arañe esta suerte

Solo le pido a Dios
Que la guerra no me sea indiferente
Es un monstro grande y pisa fuerte
Toda la pobre inocencia de la gente

Solo le pido a Dios
Que el engaño no me sea indiferente
Si un traidor puede mas que unos cuantos
Que esos cuantos no olvidan facilmente

Solo le pido a Dios
Que el futuro no me sea indiferente
Deshauciado esta el que tiene que marchar
A vivir una cultura diferente

English Translation:

All I ask of God
Is that the pain not make me indifferent
that parched death not find me
empty and alone, not having done enough

All I ask of God
Is that injustice not make me indifferent
That I'm not struck on the other cheek
After a claw has torn my destiny

All I ask of God
Is that the war not make me indifferent
It's a beast whose heavy steps grind
All that's poor and innocent in people

All I ask of God
Is that deception not make me indifferent
If a single traitor can do more than many
May the many not forget easily

All I ask of God
Is that the future not make me indifferent
Helpless is the person who must flee
to live in a different culture

Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners and a photographer whose work can be seen at

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