They can burn books, destroy libraries, forbid languages, ban beliefs, delete past times,
draw new present times, order future actions, torture and execute people...
But they still don´t know how to kill the intangible and bright
bodies of ideas, dreams and hopes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The world belongs to the baddies

The world belongs to the baddies

Will imagination be the goodies preserve?

By Sara Plaza

It was the 59 anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 2007 Nobel Prizes had just been awarded, which, as Dr Marckus Storch said during the opening discourse "this year ... [Nobel Prizes] can be seen from a different perspective ... from the research applied to social development"; and in Bali it was being celebrated the Climate Summit (10 years after Kyoto Protocol signature), which should reach an outline agreement on the 25% – 40% drop in greenhouse gases emission, in 2020. At first sight, we would think that one week ago our planet, as Hemingway's Paris, "was a party" with so many things to celebrate on its international agenda... However, in my humble opinion, there are too many unresolved matters, and while I was reading the news in the paper I could not avoid kicking and screaming and getting angry because I still do not understand too many things (or maybe I do, but I cannot believe them), because there are a lot of unfair situations, because day after day more examples of actions threatening our common sense, even our own life... My continual comments and complaints did not allow Edgardo to keep on working, so he stopped his writing, sat next to me and asked me why I was so angry. Then, I made him a summary of the general issues under the headlines, and gave him a few more details about the opinion matters; finally, I reviewed with him both national and international issues. When I had concluded, he looked at me with a smile (mine had disappeared with the fit) and said: "What do you want? The world belongs to the baddies". I went quiet for a while trying to digest those two sentences slowly. I kept on reading here and there and found that this year Literature Nobel prizewinner, Doris Lessing, did not have shown too much optimism either when she denounced in Stockholm (throughout a text that was read by her publisher, because she could not be present at the ceremony) the visible line, the deep gap that separates those few who have everything from those many who have nothing, and criticized the fact that despite the lack of textbooks and chalk in many Indian and African wretched schools, there was a great interest in reading. In relation with literary creation (though, in my opinion, it might also be an ingredient for daily life), she observed:

Let's suppose that water flooded our cities with the rise in the sea level; narrator will remain, because fantasy is what enriches us, what supports us., what creates us, for better or worse.

On the one hand I could not avoid getting back a number of pages and read again the article Contaminemos como los ricos. India reivindica su modelo de fuerte crecimiento con alto coste ecológico [1] (Let's pollute as rich countries do. India claims for an economic growth rate with high ecological cost). The last paragraph states: "... climate change effects have reached at India: a number of hours far from Calcuta, on the coast of Western Bengala State, two populated islands of the Sundarbands archipelago have immersed in the water leaving thousands of refugees as a result of the temperature increase".

On the other hand, I sought for one of my old writings that I had prepared as collaboration on the collection that a Ecuadorian university librarian was publishing in order to let students, through brief essays, know more about the life and work of main characters of culture, education, social struggle, etc., in Latin America. Among my lines I quoted many written by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, and found ones very special to which I have always gone back for moving further:

To accept in the essence of human nature, historically constituted, the need of dreaming seems fundamental to me. I find dream as a core project of historical individuals ... Today I defend, with the same strength as I always did, the right to dream.

Talking about advocacy, I remembered when Mario Benedetti defended joy, and his poetry took me up to the doors of utopia and, once more, before Freire's words:

Revolutionary utopia tends to be dynamic more than static; tends more to life than to death; to the future as a challenge to men and women creativity rather than to a repetition of the present; to love as individual's liberation not as pathological possessiveness; to life emotion more than to cold abstractions; to living together in harmony instead of living gregariously; to dialogue rather than to silence; to praxis more than to "law and order"; to men and women that organize themselves thoughtfully for action, rather than to men and women who are organized for passivity; to creative and communicative language more than to prescriptive codes; to thoughtful challenges rather than to domesticating slogans; and to values that are lived more than to myths that are imposed.

Little by little, at the end of the morning, I still thought that maybe Edgardo was right and the world belonged to the baddies, however, it was doubtless that Lessing's imagination and Freire's dreams belonged to everybody who still believes in our own capacity to imagine and dream, to those men and women, children and elder who still get angry and protest, and are not satisfied with a reality that, even dressed in fancy clothes to celebrate statements of the past and agreements for the future, continues to fail its most important goal: the present of millions of people who live badly today and will hardly survive tomorrow.

It depends on us to make use of our imagination, to put our dreams into practice, to take utopia one step further. I do not know whether this makes us good guys, not even better, but it will make us more human and will give us opportunities to feel alive and to defend our life, our illusions and our joy without ruining millions of other people's.

[1] Newspaper EL PAÍS, Tuesday 11 December, 2007. International Edition.