17 September 2010

A Letter to Our Countries

A daughter's letter for la Patria; Citlali's words express so much of what I've grown to love about Mexico. That this 'war' wages on and the families caught in the middle of fear are not seen by the millions of people who watch the nightly news. I think it interesting how we've traded countries, or rather expanded our concept and geographic region we call home. She's at home in the north and I am more at home in the simple life of El Pueblo in the south; I love my abulitas who come to door; the kids who collect bottle caps for me; the colors and the music; the Santos who are beloved and the community ceremonies Catholic or Indigenous it is a blend of communion with Nature and Spirit. The war wages on. People still gather close to pray for rain; for safe keeping; for a miracle. Most importantly we both make a home embracing both sides of what we love and hold close of our countries and the people who make up our communities.

What does it mean when we've lost the thread connecting us to what is essential? The basics. Water. Food. Shelter. Community. Thousands of years of evolution and we forget in these modern tech times there is a force, and energy that engages birds and butterflies and people to move in a rhythm across the world. North to South. South to North. East to West. West to East. Currents.Tides. Land patterns following the seasons and rain. No one's ipod can tell them that. It's still mysterious and unknown like the face of God.

I read this letter, a swell in my heart edges with a tear. I think of Pancho Villa's tears. I listen to old Mexican love songs about crying; longing, aching, love crossing the distance on a cool evening in the mountains. It feels I've been a long away from my home in the south. I returned to Flag in the summer monsoons and it's already a new season of autumns early gold. I never know how long I will stay or when I leave from either place. I share a similar melancholy about these times ; I feel, here is a voice people need to hear to inspire our empathy and engage our imaginations for Humane solutions. I show pictures of the people of my pueblo at a lecture at NAU Social Diversity Class. Their faces glow in the darkened classroom. I hope the students will remember something of these faces when they hear the news. These warm faces I have come to love as I do the land. They are deep lined, aquiline ; obsidian and green; strong and undulating; beautiful. The land and people of all ages, education levels, ask, " Why do the Americans want to hate us?"

I reflect on the American Dream I remember from first grade as I stood and learnt the Pledge of Allegiance. How does it fit into the reality of now? Somehow the dream still remains and that's perhaps what we need to remember and work towards globally.

I don't think the answers lie in our governments but within ourselves and our communities. I am inspired in the examples of binational collaborations; people working together to build homes, grow gardens, and community enrichment.

This letter a song for the people. Gracias Citlali for letting me share your heart's song.

Viva México, y Que Muera el Mal Gobierno

Estimad@s, Dear everyone,

It's been a tough year for me after coming back from our last field season in Chihuahua last Fall. Things were ok in the sierra and, most likely out of sheer luck, me and Marissa completed our work and collected plants for my dissertation. Since then, it feels like everything has spiraled downwards in my beloved country. I've been back a couple times since the end of our last field season, and every time it seems like the flimsy foundations that held the social order keep coming down up to the point where I often feel like I have no country. My idea of México is altered, perhaps even blinded, by love. I close my eyes and I see its amazing landscapes, its beautiful and kind people, its cultural and artistic expressions, its rich and complex history, its amazing food. I open my eyes and I see despair and violence, a country taken over by bloodshed and horrendous crimes. Everyday. Things don't seem to be getting any better, and today, the whole country has undergone a stupid and unnecessary celebration of Independence.

Eight years ago I went back to work in México as soon as I finished my masters; I had the opportunity to stay in the US and work here but decided to leave all that behind and work for my country. Contribute with my ideas and my passion. Now, I feel that by sheer luck I live in a voluntary and comfortable exile. The news in México are just that, letters on my computer screen that I can choose not to read nor to assimilate. I open my eyes and all I see is beauty, the mountains and the pines of northern Arizona watch over me as I easily live in this protected nook.

I don't know what will happen with México. I don't even know if I have the passion and energy to go back and try to fix things (can "it" be fixed or is it broken?). I may just settle for comfort over fighting battles in the desert.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Independence from the Spanish crown. Our government chose to celebrate it lavishly, with no regard for the 30,000 people that have died in the past four years as victims of the "war on drugs" (again, the omission of the obvious connection between drug dealing and poverty and inequality seems to be left outside the equation of rationality that is delivered every day by the press releases from the state). No regard for the acts of violence perpetrated against women in Ciudad Juárez and other cities in the country. No regard for the people that have been kidnapped and mutilated in this country where the only effective law is the "Ley de Herodes."

I really enjoyed reading this editorial: http://www.proceso.com.mx/rv/modHome/detalleExclusiva/83336. It is a call to rise in arms against the oppresor. The oppressor, in this globalized world is not just the government. The oppressor is NAFTA, the oppressor are the multinationals and corporations that preach economic gain as the beginning and end of everything. The oppressor, perhaps, is also me, silent accomplice that chooses ego over community, self-gratification above anything.

For those of you that are in México, I send you love and strength. I also apologize for writing in English, it comes easier to me these days. For those of you elsewhere, please send good energy and good thoughts to my country that these days has many bullet-holes going through it, draining it.

¡Que Viva México, y Que Muera el Mal Gobierno!

Citlali Cortés Montaño

¡Que permanezca la tierra!
¡Que estén en pie los montes!
Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin, el sabio, águila blanca, de Tecamachalco. Siglo XV.