Tell Them the Whole Truth

Don't prettify our history!

Don't select,

neglect to mention,

or forget


When children ask about the world,
what things were like before their birth,
how situations came to be,
or why we choose to live like this,
don't mythicize, romanticize,
or euphemize, or summarize,
or minimize, or sell them lies.

Don't try to bleach the bloody past,
the stains of war, of genocides,
of hatred waged on difference,
the ink of writs injustice penned
with quills dipped into crimson pools
of those who perished needlessly.

Please tell the children EVERYTHING:

the lynchings, riots, old crusades,
the segregations, slaveries,
the slaughtering in names of gods,
the torturing and inquisitions,
the gas chambers, the branded backs,
the Holocaust, internment camps,
the many forms of terrorism,
the colonists, iconoclasts,
deniers of objective facts,
imposters and the hypocrites,
the purchasers of influence,
betrayers of democracy,
exploiters and extremist foes,
the xenophobes, supremacists,
the flaming crosses, nooses, knives,
the drownings, poisons, guillotines,
the napalm, bombs, the casualties,
the crudest cruelest epithets,
the treachery of patriots,
assassinations, obstacles,
the profiling and sexism,
glass ceilings, the intolerance,
the automations of a thought,
the apathy toward suffering,
the plagues and raging ignorance,
defilers and diminishers,
the silencing of dissidence,
the censoring of revelations,
indoctrination, propaganda,
the brainwashers and biased minds,
prejudices everywhere.

And speak of all the better things:

discoveries, inventions, love,
compassion, caring, empathy,
advancements, what was overcome,
of sacrifices, small and large,
the artists, cultures, music, dancing,
the nonconformists, righteous rebels,
revolutions of good cause,
the mastery of elements,
our symbols, myths, antique beliefs,
the architectures of the ages,
agriculture, gatherers,
sciences and scholarship,
enlightenment, imagination,
the poetries of everyone,
the curing and the nurturing,
the fallen tyrants, toppled walls,
the peace once gained, to be regained,
defenders of our liberty,
the freedom that is never free,
our never-ending fights for rights,
the whistleblowers and disclosures,
the challenges we rise to meet,
adventures waged against all odds,
society and synergy,
togetherness, equality,
the strength of individuals,
the champion someone could be,
the beauty of diversity,
the questions of profundity,
integrity, the bond of trust,
our bravery to face unknowns
and hopefulness for what must come.

Do tell the children everything.

Let honesty relieve us from
repeating tragic past mistakes.

Let history inform our need
to teach the children everything

because you know
they would find out


then wonder why

you'd look them in the eye
and lie.

Tell Them the Whole Truth © Copyright 2021, Robert J. Tiess.

View this poem at

Teaching Children History challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: November 3, 2021