What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.
None of what the insightful and passionate contributors to this blog have written about this year has come up out of nowhere. Of course there have been issues and incidents that have hit the main-stream news – elections in six Latin American countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panamá), the worst drought in decades affecting Central America, the surge in child migrants from the “Northern Triangle” (Honduras-El Salvador-Guatemala) heading towards the U.S., and the brutal massacre of 43 students in Mexico.
But the news surfaces from the everyday realities of the communities and organizations that we as MCC have had the enormous privilege of connecting with and walking beside. These stories are rooted in the conditions and contradictions that we live with across Latin America all of the time. The micro and macro social, political and economic forces at work haven’t gone away just because their manifestations stop making headlines. So we will continue to bear witness to them, even though they are not new.
- Security based on militarization and right to have big guns, instead of restoration of right relationships.
- Economic “development” based on exploitation and exportation, leaving local communities empty handed.
- UN troops in a country without a war, bringing cholera instead of peace
- Rapid adjustments to policy and practice when “crises” arise, without addressing root causes of issues like migration, “natural” disasters and social conflict.
- Election campaigns inflated with precarious promises.
At the end of the day, many of these issues stem from the dominant assumption that people, nature and all of the Earth’s resources are factors in a big economic equation where a few master players manage to achieve the greatest personal economic and political gain at any cost for the rest.
Shall we feel overwhelmed and discouraged by these systems beyond our control? Do we really have no control? Or can we daily choose to realign our assumptions and “Remember our Creator” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) – remember that all of Creation has been made with great worth and profound dignity for us to celebrate and care for day to day. We can keep stepping outside of the dominant assumption by recognizing that it is false, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
In 2015, we will continue to uphold the many people and communities who have raised their voice with the good news of alternative ways of living throughout this past year. I will name a few, but I truly celebrate the many…
- Jorge Montes and the Mountain Communities in El Carmen, Bolivia (Colombia) who have chosen forgiveness and nonviolence in the face of threats and imprisonment. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of God.
- The Ocos community in San Marcos, Guatemala, who have repeatedly sought dialogue with those who are destroying their land and water sources, and who recognize the need to respect and care for Creation. Blessed are the gentle for they will inherit the earth.
- The Haitian Collective for the Defense of the Right to Housing and community members in Vilaj Mozayik and Canaan who boldly affirm everyone’s right to a home with dignity. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
- The family members and community in Nogales that persistently remembers the death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez. In a context where many have been killed, they remind us that each life taken matters. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Ex-combatants like Don Mario who are actively part of building a culture of peace and promoting reconciliation today, not waiting for the future. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.
-Bonnie Klassen is the MCC Area Director for South America and Mexico