(Enough words have been exchanged;
now at last let me see some deeds!)
-- Goethe, Faust I *
What we ask of you is action. To act in accordance with the beauty of freedom, with the love of freedom with which we are each imbued, but which has been manipulated into a hatred for that which we believe to be impossible. Yet this love cannot be silenced by such pained inversions, only relegated perhaps to a universal disquiet, which at times is roused in fury, be it consciously or of circumstance or action. We ask you now to be so roused. Be no longer satisfied with such placating delusions as to the inevitability of this bondage, these tyrannies, this injustice; be no longer convinced of, enamored with, the false nobility of your idleness and despair. You must act, you must decide. You may wish to extract yourself from this struggle, to subscribe to the comforts of the notion of futility of action, but we must remind you that in refusing to pass judgment, in refusing to decide, you are each moment deciding; you are deciding to conspire with the forces of exploitation and oppression who want nothing more than your silent and idle acceptance. Yet the idle silence in which you presume to sit is false; it is neither silent nor idle, for the air around you is filled with the unending noise and motion of a system unceasing in its expansion and conquest, unceasing in its infliction.
We have ourselves decided. We will no longer be complicit in this destruction, in the self-destructive ways from which our destruction of others emerges empowered. We will no longer conspire against ourselves, no longer conspire against our brothers and sisters. We will no longer conspire against humanity. We do not speak of the conspiracy in the conventional sense; these systems of treachery and injustice are so open and entrenched as to have transcended the very idea of conspiracy; it has escaped us and it traps us in its escaping. It would appear to us that we are bound to its self-established engine of persistence. These systems are often no longer guided or structured by the insidious associations so much as the systems themselves define the form these, our, associations take; these malicious principles propelling a boundless and hungry malignancy to all corners of our imperiled globe, pressing its cruel instruments into the reticent flesh of the exploited, bombing history into disgrace and children into orphans and us to our knees, pressing unwaveringly until the instruments have pierced so deeply and completely so as to form, from that which they did pierce, an instrument of piercing; and thus a new employ of cruelty is born, and this morbid, transforming dance of blades continues, its movements strengthened and sustained.
What we hope for September 17th is inextricably bound to these ideas; we hope to see a realization and celebration of human potentiality, of freedom and justice and liberty; a celebration of their realization, a realization through celebration, a reverent jubilee of resistance. But what does this mean?
It means we do not advocate a hedonistic abandon or joyous disregard or oblivious ecstasy, an uncaring rejection of the reality of the injustice which envelops us, which presses against us at each alive moment. We proceed with a reverence for the seemingly endless suffering imposed on many, around us and around the world, the calculated degradation they face, and the dignity with which they often face it; we proceed with a reverence for the courage and determination seen in the face of such injustice and suffering throughout human history, which rises to inspire us not only in many quiet and continual acts of labor, kindness, resistance and renewal, but in wondrous and resounding occurrences such as the events of the Arab spring, where millions rise in the face of entrenched, merciless, powerful oppressors and systems of oppression, to assert their humanity, their refusal to submit to the conditions of tyranny and exploitation; in their sacrifice we are guided, we are called upon by the courage and beauty of their actions, a beauty which achieves an intensity that renders our denials useless, for if an attempt at denial is made, the negation of life and freedom which is implicit in this act of denying (done in a million ways a million times each day, those smaller, subtler forms by which we subjugate ourselves to contours of a cruel system and its unopposed continuation), brings to our very bones a lasting shake and shiver, an implacable reminder of persistent power and humanity; we are made conscious of the destructive nature of our continual denials of life, and compelled to act.
Yet in the spirit of such somber and deserved reverence, what place is there for the joyous celebration, the laughter and pleasure implied by a jubilee? This reverence is not intended to drive us into despair, an idle contemplation of the ills of the world; it shall drive us to resistance. And we shall celebrate joyously our renouncement of the comforts of despair, and our acceptance of the responsibility of action. We will celebrate this rejection of the disempowering opiate of delusion, the excursion of our duplicitous, life feeding phantoms; and as the dark of their malignant hunger and death peddling recedes, we will make a raucous play among the restored light. In our acts of resistance we will find a welcome lessening of the forces of dread and despair which may have previously rendered us bewildered and inactive; as we proceed in a way more free and integrated, we are less afraid, more emboldened, and less susceptible to the lustrous, bitter sweets, the vile candy of despair. And all this is pervaded with a spirit of resistance, for each act, the reverence we cultivate and express for those courageous acts and ideas, which power structures and their heirs despise and depict as dangerous and regrettable; the celebration of our freedom in humanity, in the streets of that leading citadel, the hospice inhabited by the vanguard of the elite, built to subvert, subjugate and exploit our humanity, to denigrate it to a form we ourselves would come to view as undesirable, to be condemned, repressed or destroyed (and in our expressed desire we announce our refusal to accept such a detestable view); in our tiny acts of struggle and striving, the spirit of resistance in within it all, for it is all born out the liveliest struggles and passions and desires, by the same storming current which courses hot and irrepressible through all those who rise for themselves to say, "no more," who rise to say, as did the Zapatistas, expressing a thought shared by those oppressed throughout the world, "Enough is enough! Ya basta!"
We will no longer assist in the curtailing of human freedom, of others or our own, but rather actively resist and oppose such subordinating authorities. We will work to see liberty realized for every man and woman, so that each may develop fully, unhindered, their own capacities and powers. We will struggle and strive consciously together to relieve, even if only in some small way, the suffering of our fellow human being. In the West we squander what privileges of freedom we have; we misspend the tremendous opportunity for change, a change not callously commoditized and packaged in electric colors and meretricious exuberance, a tranquilizing tonic of spent action and manipulated sentiment, which they will so generously deign to bestow on us from above, to permit us to experience for a brief time before betrayal, but rather a true change which is within our reach, within the reach of such privileged limbs, born to the best of suns and bountiful nutrient, only to be cut away by those who possess them, so that they may better justify to themselves their inaction under the growing, swirling cries of suffering, the mounting victims of tyrants, the mass graves marked most notably by the simultaneous side-glance of a million healthy eyes.
We ask only that you realize the boundless potential of the unfettered individual. We say only, but we know we ask much of those who have long been entombed in the dead airs of delusion, in the pacification of unreality; one must work to find extraction from the pressing teeth of tyranny, the encircling binds of subservience, that ever-present bridling at once reassuring and terrifying. We ask that you cast off these fetters, immediately and with vigor. We have for too long accepted, with a numb smile and dull gaze, with the glaze of delusion and denial, with the stultifying salve of despair, these entrapments that we have ourselves erected and allowed to negate our strivings: bring a fearless fire to them all, and nourish your expanding soils of tomorrow with their ash-filled rains; seed the dawn with the courage of resistance, seed the night with noble dreams of justice. And we ask this all of ourselves. Each day we renew our commit, as we know it necessary to do so. We claim no authority but the sovereignty of the self. We seek to learn from, and develop in, the beauty of our collectively realized potentialities, of our collectively unbound humanity.
When we speak in a manner in which we cast ourselves as our own worst oppressors, we speak of a degrading submission of will to, and a collaboration with, their forces, and we do not mean to discount the existing regimes of violence and oppression and terror, and the immeasurable pain they bring to bear. We do not propose to understand what it is to experience the immense suffering they inflict, nor the effects of such an experience ; a suffering which must, for those who endure it, reside in each moment of each day, be it in the bright and burning foregrounded or for a brief period subdued. We know we cannot accurately imagine all this entails, in the West it is clouded from many of us, despite our struggles, even those deemed intolerable. We know we stand only at the mouth of the immense and terrible canyon which suffering has opened wide upon the earth, and from here we remember that other human beings have been made to experience the depths of this place, this place which overpowers with its scent of exacted horrors; we remember, and are thankful for, this gift of lacking knowledge when we come to think our own trials have grown too great. Yet we will not because of this inability forgo all attempts at empathy or a conditioned understanding, and still believe we must strive to find some point of relation among us, be it only in our abiding respect for, and inspiration taken from, the courage, determination, strength, the innumerable just qualities we see which give us hope in our largely far less perilous and restrictive, our far less insurmountable circumstances in the West.
While for some it is a spring of hope, for others it is one of fear. These regimes feed violently on a separated and subjected people, and they fear the gathered rising. They fear the beauty of the blossoms which have together risen, and continued to rise, out of out the impassioned earth set upon by this Arab spring, a spring who's imploring winds blow hard and implacable across all lands inhabited by the exploited, imprisoned, oppressed, winds which blow across the minds of those who daily suffer the terrors of a pervasive, imposing tyranny, and yet who’s dreams spill to dissolve fear at the enkindling kiss of such winds, as oxygen to a flame nearly undone in deprivation. And as these winds reach us in our land of gilt decay, our landscapes of exceptionalism, our seas of electric flesh and well-armed influence, are not impervious to the promise of this kiss; one can read in the reaction of the oppressors what is possible if one were to only act upon this promise, this call; whether one decides to answer this call to action, or further bundle in delusion against the growing winds and changing sky, this is the great, inescapable decision.
So what is to be done? We offer only guiding principles which we believe to be a valid, honest way to begin. We have made our position known; what exactly you should do, if anything, is for you to decide. Indeed, you must decide for yourself whether you believe what we ask deserves any answer at all. But in determining this know that you inevitably determine your position on the matters involved. As we have previously stated, we believe an answer is offered even by those who adopt a position of distance or refusal, and for us this is a most troubling form of response; for in their refusal exists a great and terrifying acceptance of things as they are, the world as it stands, and, perhaps, something beyond an acceptance of, more a submission to; it is a resignation wove out the screams of massed gunships' spinning steel arms, out the wet pulling guts of wounded animals, out the cries of lost children and the felt weight of intolerable defeat. And fingers which stitch while unaware they are stitching are the most difficult to still. We have seen grow in these fields of unawareness a spurious comfort beneath which resides a seething hatred, in love with its roiling, an inward hatred out which is forged a hatred of the world, of life and the living. At other times this resignation of latticed fear and foreboding has mingled with an overwhelming despair, and ones' internal skies are lit with little bright wounds which to gaze upon, to receive their cold fire, you would think death welcome; we make constellations of doom and sacrifice ourselves to the movements of these morbid stars, to the dark emptiness left in the wake. And at the worst times it is both and more. We would like to convince you that it does not have to be this way, but we believe you will only come to truly know this through the experience of a living aligned with freedom, with justice, with humanity, through action beyond our words; thus we say to you: join us. Act with the spirit of the free man or woman, and be realized.
You may object that our language is too grand or bewildering, that it is without proper grounding or foundation. We respond that yes, we are in some ways bewildered and bewildering, but our language is founded in a reverence for the beauty of human potential, as it has been, and will continue to be realized, and that there is no grander (nor perhaps bewildering) subject to be found.
We are often confused. We assume this is evident in the above. But we are trying. We are often scared, nervous, despairing. But we are sometimes bold, strong, determined. We are trying, we are acting. We ask that you act with. We ask that you go toward life, not against it or away from it, but toward. What we ask of you is action.
We have always had a voice. But it shall no longer be a murmur which lowers its head. It shall now be a shout which lifts the gaze and we shall force them to see us as we are, and to accept us as we are.
-- Subcomandante Marcos
September 17th 2011: Toward a reverent, jubilant, resistance.
*The conflict which is born of our selection of epigraph to perch about such an unrestrained spilling of words is known to us; we find it fitting as it makes a mantling crystal lens for the light of this conflict to pass through, a passage who’s end gifts to the pages of this missive the myriad hues of interpretative process and provocation; we ask you to trace the strain and play of these here newborn yet long present colored pools and shadows, and speak to us of the geometry you find.