Thursday, May 14, 2009

Storm From the Mountain

A Nahuatl poem, read at the beginning of the Zapatistas Fourth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle:


Now I have arrived
Now I am here, present,
I am the singer.
Now is the time to celebrate,
Come here and present yourself,
those who have an aching heart.
I raise my song.


From out of the jungle communities they caravaned to Mexico City - to the seat of the government. Campesinos, farmers, poets, artisans, activists, they gathered in numbers as they crossed from Chiapas to Mexico City, a storm gathering. They entered the city in peace, yet strong. They made their statement about peace, justice and dignity. Tlakaelel, mi maestro (teacher), was one of the elders to receive them and offer his blessings when they arrived. I had wanted to be there physically; I was in spirit. They made their statement: they are a force to be reckoned with; they are survivors; they are not going away.

After their peaceful appearance in Mexico City in 2001 they returned home. They are quiet now. They are patient. They are not gone. It may be many years before we hear from them again. They move in indigenous time; they know how to wait. Meanwhile, the forces of oppression continue at work. Meanwhile, the resistance continues. We, safe at home, unaware, have no idea of what really goes on with our closest neighbor. Here? They keep us busy thinking and worrying about swine flu, illegal immigration, drug cartels - and Mexicans. Really? Do you not believe that their well-being is our well-being? Do you really still believe that there is a border that separates us and keeps their troubles there, and our safety secured here?

There are fathers and mothers - forces in the mountain jungle: villages of farmers. What lengths will they go to for their children? What lengths would you go to for your children?


The fight continues. Quietly and patiently, it continues. Listen to the winds. Their voices carry. A revolution takes place, every day, quietly - right under our collective noses. They disappeared back into the jungles of Chiapas, but they are far from gone. Do you see how strong they are? Quiet strength accumulating, gathering. Zapata lives. There is not one Subcomandante Marcos; many are Subcomandante Marcos. Behind every mask another Subcomandante lives. Do not fear the mask that protects the identities of fathers, mothers and children. We are many under one mask. Zapatismo will never die. Dignity is never out of fashion.

Peace, justice and dignity - all rights of EVERY individual, and every community. Nice words, but how do we make it so? Listen; keep your eyes wide open. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid when instead of from the jungles of far-off Chiapas, the call for dignity and justice comes from the streets of Chicago, Detroit, L.A. and Nueva York. That would be a start. And then, if you want to do something really radical - maybe show a Mexican some love.

Yeah, that would be a start.

[As I finish writing this, coincidentally (?) the music in the background is the great American songwriter Steve Earle singing] :

The revolution starts now
When you rise above the fear
And tear the walls around you down
The revolution starts here
Where you work and where you play
Where you lay your money down
What you do and what you say
The revolution starts now
Yeah the revolution starts now
in your own backyard
In your own hometown
So what you doin' standin' around
Just follow your heart
The revolution starts now


Sandi said...

The march of the color of the earth...the earth...where we all live. This is profoundly touching to me. El P, I really liked "they know how to wait". Figuring out how to wait is something that I need to do.

el poquito said...

I think you said something powerful there Sandi: "how to wait". Waiting is hard. It can make us a bit squirrely - doing nothing - outwardly appearing. Then, if I spend that waiting time spinning endless loops in my mind of traveling down bad roads, as i call them, I don't use that time of waiting well. How do I spend that waiting time constructively? - building my power and strength, till eventually the plan of action comes forward. it's all in the timing, eh? We each carry our own 'storm from the mountain'.

el p

rocketj said...

I'm so glad you found this info. I hadn't forgotten your question, but was trying to look up more about its origin myself. I actually had drafted a reply, but saved it for finishing later. Thought I'd check out your website to see it I could email you an answer directly.

If it's any use now, my info came from a book call Grassroots Postmoderism. What you've explained here actually helps me with some of the work I'm doing.

It continues to amaze and inspire me that we are all connected by so many threads. I am moved by your words here. I send you love today.

el poquito said...

Hey Rocky,

So glad you found your way over here. Thanks for coming by. Thank you for the introduction to this poem. I simply googled it and found more. Yay google oracle! And it linked it to the 4th declaration from the jungle from the zapatistas. Then I found this youtube clip from their journey to Mexico City, which I so clearly remember like it was yesterday. i had a very strong pull to attend, but was unable at the time. I did know a filmmaker who traveled along with the caravan, and as i said, an elder of mine was there in the city to welcome them. What a powerful moment that was, eh?

I'm curious what your work is that you're doing and would love to hear more if possible. If not here, then privately. I understand it's all in the public plaza here. I would like to learn more.

Again, thanks for stopping by and leaving me a note - many come by, most are quiet and it's always nice to know I'm not just a voice in the wind. Thanks for the encouragement - although my wife would probably say, "please don't encourage him!" hahaha!

and i send you love today also.

be well, -el po

rocketj said...

I've been wanting to answer your question, El, but we have had some family visiting.

The short version is I am preparing for written and oral preliminary exams this Fall, and one of the reading lists I have worked up is about contemporary immigrant narratives (latter part of 20th century to the present). In that effort, I'm reading about texts that discuss diapora, witness literature, the question of "American" identity, and how individuals/families/cultures assimilate/acculturate into such an identity -- or not.

My interest in this is linked to the fact that my own grandparents were all born in Italy and came here nearly 100 years ago. I'm trying to write/research about them, and part of that effort has led me to look at own groups as well.

I would appreciate talking to you more about this -- anytime. You can email me directly, or tell me how to email you. Thanks for your gracious interest!