Dear Friends of Pachaysana,
In response to the elections in the United States, we have decided that our organization cannot simply observe in silence. Our mission transcends false boundaries, especially those that mark some as “developed” and others as “underdeveloped,” or those that divide your country from ours. Look closely, there is no line; it is only in our imaginations, even if you were to build a wall. Pachaysana’s mission is to create greater balance among human communities via active participation in a creative dialogue. Our vision is a complete transformation of how we conduct such a dialogue.
(Re-imagining dialogue at 4AM in Tzawata, Rehearsing Change, spring 2016)
These last months, and especially these last few days, have struck Pachaysana deeply. As stated by one of our Ecuadorian community counterparts, these events burrow into the core of our humanity, where each and every day we must strive to overcome darkness and see the beauty in those who are apparently so different from us.
As we continue this letter, it is important to state its objective: reflection. Our words are not a call to action, at least not yet. We offer observation and reflection, in solidarity with those who are suffering, so as to gradually move toward organization, and only then, once the anger has converted into collective empowerment, will we recommend action.
Some of you are incredibly impatient and ready to start the revolution; however, remember that no change is sustainable without carefully weaving it into the fabric of our collective identity. In essence, let us not confuse our protest, meaning what is happening on the streets in many urban areas in the USA, for action; rather, it is a cry to be heard, it is an expression of anger and it is the search for allies, all of which are important and necessary activities. Please continue, but peacefully, for they are a natural response to such immense disappointment, and we support all of you, as long as the protest is accompanied with deep reflection engaged via a dialogue.
Your cries bring tears to our eyes, for they are urgent and filled with a very real pain. You need to feel this hurting and no one should tell you to “get over it.” Quite the contrary, open yourselves up even more to the vulnerability, and when the pain is almost unbearable, embrace it and share it with the world. This is essence of our humanity; yet, unfortunately, it is what “the other” has yet to comprehend.
(Seeking comprehension via a creative dialogue in Rehearsing Change, fall 2016)
We continue this reflection with some specific points addressed to Trump voters. Surely very few will read them, but as our fellow activists cry out to be heard, we do so now:
The System: to those who voted for the president-elect claiming to be oppressed by a rigged system, and only an outsider of that system could fix it, we would like to share the following. First, while we would argue that Trump is not an outsider from the political powers-that-be, and rather is an unofficial participant/beneficiary of that system, we choose to accept your rationale as you claim, for we have no reason to believe otherwise. Like you, we are taking action to transform “the system” and liberate all oppressed peoples from systemic violence; however, you must remember one lesson that rings true throughout human history: placing trust in a self-proclaimed savior has never worked… never. If you voted because you felt like a victim, we wish you would have first done what is now happening on the streets: crying out, expressing anger and most importantly, searching for allies. In that process, you probably would have realized how much you have in common with those you are now asking to “come together” with you and support the president-elect. Since saviors of this kind do not exist, you must now overcome the “savior complex” and realize that the only way to transform the system is by doing it with those you currently distrust. A tough road, but not impossible.
(Exploring systemic violence via story in Rehearsing Change, fall 2016)
Discourse’s effect on dialogue: Many of you chose to vote for Trump in spite of his hateful speech. The desire to change politics was so strong that you ignored such violent “other-ization” of human beings. As we watch from afar, we can only tell those of you who voted for Trump that his discourse was so strong, and so utterly violent, that you need to consider it irreparable. This does not mean that we cannot still move toward sustainable change, for we truly believe that almost all of those who feel violated by Trump will come around and work with you and many others who voted for Trump (not all, mind you). They will find the common ground and empathize with your feelings, even if they consider them misguided. However, and this is very important, they will not come around to working with a leader who has labeled them, insulted them and violated their very identities. That is a near impossibility. Do not get angry because of their unwillingness to work with the new president, for it is similar to what you felt regarding your disgust with Washington and the system. (We simply argue that their pain is much more acute and much more vital than what you felt because it was an attack on their very identities.)
Walls: Quite simply, walls have never been, nor will they ever be, the answer. They are born of fear and/or hate and nothing else. If that is to become the new “American” symbol, (and trust us, if you build one, then it will become a defining national symbol), we regret that you will become lost forever. Even worse, it will further entrench the system you seek to break apart.
(Bridges work better than walls. Pictured: bridge to the community of Tzawata. Rehearsing Change, spring 2016)
Globalism (Radical Globalization): In this final point, we will be more direct. It is not to offend, but to explain why we feel offended. Please reconsider your obsession with rejecting “Globalism” and putting “America first,” because your premise is flawed. There are indeed many problems with how countries trade goods, and how such exchange complicates economics in countries around the world; yet, most observations related to this topic are extremely narrow and shortsighted. We ask you to reflect with a longer memory and a longer projection to the future. US foreign policy, especially economically-speaking, has long been “America first,” to the point that it has crippled many other countries around the world. One can read endless literature from all political viewpoints, and there is basically no debate on this subject. Mind you, we are not complaining; rather, we are asking for a reconsideration of a very important Trump-supporter claim, for it is offensive to us. There is no statistical, or logical, justification for saying “we are tired of helping other countries; it is time to help ourselves.” The USA is indeed a philanthropic nation, but by no means exceedingly so. In fact, the most generous statistics show the US as 20th of all countries when measuring all non-war-related assistance to other countries. Much of that statistic also comes from giving to non-reconstruction efforts in countries where the US started wars.
All countries are intertwined, and any move to isolate the USA from the world will only result in your own demise. We respect your right for self-determination and do not wish you harm. We hope you feel the same about us. We do not ask for your charity, just as we do not ask for your wars. We simply ask for your kindness, as you should ask for ours. We ask for your honesty, as you should ask for ours. We ask for your dedication to making this world a more just and livable place for all, just as you should ask the same from us.
The struggle for justice continues. Let’s do it together.
With solidarity for the oppressed around the world
Note: Due to the political nature of this specific blog post, to protect the opinions and identities of our partner organizations and communities, we reiterate the disclaimer from our blog's homepage: " The views expressed in our blog are those of Pachaysana and our writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or identities of our partner communities and organizations."