And Yet We Wash Our Hands

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but
that instead an uproar was starting,
he took water
and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am
innocent of this man’s blood,” he said.
“It is your
responsibility!” —Matthew 27:24.

We Christians must take action.
We must do more than pray
That God will solve our problems
And keep the wolf at bay.
Satan’s like a lion
That paces through our lands.
Christians have to stop him,
And yet we wash our hands.

Our children are our future.
It’s oft been said before.
Good learning is the key
That opens up the door.
We have to teach our children
The path that God has planned.
Too many in our country
Have simply washed their hands.

Our nation needs us now.
We’re weak, though once were strong.
We have to save our nation
From those who now do wrong.
We wander through a darkness
And fail to understand
We are responsible,
And yet we wash our hands.

We should have learned our lesson
Taught in God’s own word.
We did not act and look
And now the world’s absurd.
Christ once had to face
The Sanhedrin’s foul demands.
Pilate said “He’s innocent,”
And yet he washed his hands.

Prayer is not a chance
To tell God what to do.
It’s listening for the message
That He’s prepared for you.
Christian fatalists
Will wait for angel bands.
They say “My work is over,”
And so they wash their hands.

Take heed the words I’m writing
It’s time to rise again.
The future is at stake
Within the hearts of men.
While storms of life are raging
And evilness expands,
I’m one of those who’ll never
Wash it off my hands.



LTC Roy E. Peterson, US Army Military Intelligence and Russian Foreign Area Officer (Retired) has published more than 5,000 poems in 78 of his 101 books. He has been an Army Attaché in Moscow, Commander of INF Portal Monitoring in Votkinsk, first US Foreign Commercial Officer in Vladivostok, Russia and Regional Manager in the Russian Far East for IBM. He holds a BA, Hardin-Simmons University (Political Science); MA, University of Arizona (Political Science); MA, University of Southern California (Int. Relations) and MBA University of Phoenix. He taught at the University of Arizona, Western New Mexico University, University of Maryland, Travel University and the University of Phoenix.

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24 Responses

  1. Jeffrey Essmann

    Thanks so much for this, LTC Peterson. I couldn’t agree more. My only quibble with the poem might be that handwashing is too active a metaphor. Sleepwalking is what most comes to mind when I look around at my fellow Christians these days. But hey, Sunday is Pentecost. Let’s hope and pray for a massive infusion of the Spirit. In the meantime I’ll savor the spirit of your poem. Thanks again.

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      I appreciate the comments, Jeffrey! I agree with your assessment of fellow Christians these days some of whom sleepwalk and some of whom wash their hands and sit on the sidelines. That to me is much the same. A sad state of affairs.

  2. Gigi Ryan

    Dear Roy,
    Excellent poem and message. Thank you.
    I love the refrain, which changes a wee bit each time – driving the message home and giving me something to think about today – each time I wash my hands!

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      Bless you, Gigi! Thank you for the kind comments.

  3. Warren Bonham

    This is a well-crafted reminder that some stains can’t be removed no matter how hard you scrub. Even if we were disposed to merely be hand-washers, it wouldn’t mean that we’d manage to stay above the fray. If that’s the case, we might as well fully engage in the battle.

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      I agree with the need to become engaged in the battle. Thank you for your comments.

  4. Russel Winick

    Great job, Roy. Your poem drives the poignant message home effectively.

  5. Brian A. Yapko

    This is a wonderful poem, Roy — a call to arms which also conveys great wisdom. It was particularly struck by the lines: Prayer is not a chance/To tell God what to do./It’s listening for the message/That He’s prepared for you.” A lot of people waste their lives and their happiness thinking it’s the other way around.

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      Thank you for pointing out this key issue. We are the instruments to get things done. Too many overlook this fact not realizing God is telling us to get off our duff and fight the battle.

  6. Phil S. Rogers

    Powerful, and exposes so many Americans, Christians, that have their heads buried in the sand. The battle is starting, the question is how will it end, and if it ends badly we can only blame ourselves.

  7. Margaret Coats

    Clear and forcefully advanced over and over with varied examples, Roy. A powerful appeal to put on the armor of God and attend to the duties of a Christian soldier. In the ancient world one of the places where one could be sure of finding Christians would be among soldier; the Faith had a military allure. There are dozens and dozens of recognized soldier saints from those early times when persecution could be expected. You’ve made a good picture of those who won’t enlist or volunteer for hazardous duty; may it inspire the rest of us to use our hands and take up the slack.

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      Excellent points, Margaret, about putting on the whole armor of God and the warrior saints. Poetry is one of the last things at my age with which I have to fight. Your comments inspire me to do more such as witnessing, encouraging Christians to vote, and finding other ways to fight the battles that have come to us.

  8. Rohini

    This is a powerful poem with a strong military rhythm. Truly rousing. Thank you for writing it.

  9. Daniel Kemper

    “Prayer is not a chance
    To tell God what to do.
    It’s listening for the message
    That He’s prepared for you.” My favorite lines by far.

    Reminded me of the following hymn, which In synchronicity has been running through my head a lot recently.

    Christian, seek not yet repose,
    Cast thy dreams of ease away;
    Thou art in the midst of foes:
    Watch and pray.

    Principalities and pow’rs,
    Must’ring their unseen array,
    Wait for thine unguarded hours:
    Watch and pray.

    Gird thy heav’nly armor on,
    Wear it ever, night and day;
    Ambushed lies the evil one:
    Watch and pray.

    Hear the victors who o’ercame:
    Still they mark each warrior’s way;
    All with one sweet voice exclaim,
    “Watch and pray.“

    Hear, above all, hear thy Lord,
    Him thou lovest to obey;
    Hide within thy heart his word,
    “Watch and pray.“

    Watch, as if on that alone
    Hung the issue of the day;
    Pray, that help may be sent down:
    Watch and pray.

    • Roy Eugene Peterson

      Daniel, thank you for pointing out that verse and sharing such a great hymn! I value your comments!

  10. James Sale

    Very fine writing Roy, and the use of the image of Pontius Pilate applied to contemporary events in your refrain is spot-on. We seem to have an epidemic of people who have washed their hands, and of what …? Of actually proclaiming the truth. Dante made it clear that being truthful was a requisite for entry into Paradise.

  11. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Great reference to Dante and the truth that must be proclaimed. I value your special comments about my poem related to contemporary events and the “epidemic of people who have washed their hands.” We must be engaged in that continual war of right versus wrong.

  12. Michael Vanyukov

    Holding oneself responsible for a fellow human being is what differentiates Judaism from the heathen Pilate. That is just one thing why “the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus” story is highly improbable, depicting gross violations of Jewish beliefs, laws, and practice while whitewashing Pilate, whose cruelty was such that he was recalled to Rome to be tried for that. Pilate may have washed his hands, but it was Romans not Jews who were afraid of Jesus, as messianic movements were associated with the Jews’ fighting for freedom from the Roman oppression and were mercilessly suppressed by the Romans.

  13. Jeff Eardley

    Roy, our civilised Christian values are under massive attack over here. The values that saw my parents and grandparents through two World Wars. Your words brought a tear to my eye today, for which I thank you. This is a great poem.

  14. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Roy, this poem captures the apathetic attitude of a society in the face of evil. I love your effective use of repetition with its twist at the end… a closing line we would do well to take to heart. Thank you!

  15. Adam Wasem

    I like the short, punchy lines and sentences. It’s like a march in verse. It’s hard to think of a better way to frame a call to arms. Christian soldiers, time to put on the full armor of God and get our hands dirty!


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