Saturday, December 4, 2010

El Comienzo: The beggining

I remember how confident I was on my first World Politics class. I was ready for this. I heard that this class was difficult. I knew that it would challenge what I knew about power politics. But thats ok, I thought. I knew Hubert Spencer and Kant. I knew what the meaning of humanity was. It was empathy. Empathy is universal. Simple. Done. I had all the jargon. But then classes began. I found my match: Christian T.R Cavendar. We were the mirror opposite. You see, I have always been Panglossian about humanity. To me, humanity is empathy. But he saw things differently. He saw humanity as quite the opposite. I could hold up. I understood the twists and turns in his logic. I was confident about my views. I had history to back me up: the zapatistas, philosophy, acts of kindness scrolled into our veins.

But then, midway in the semester, we read Todorov, and everything I prided myself on fell apart. It wasn't all at once. Little by little, my opinions were being defaced like limestone. Questions about poverty and sovereignty made me think, but that haunting quote on page 250 The man who finds his country sweet is only a raw beginner; the man for whom each country is as his own is already strong; but only the man for whom the whole world is as a foreign country is perfect was the last straw. Then what is culture? Was it worth preserving? And what of poverty? What of those in Chiapas? A horticultural society is being disrupted by NGOs coming in and telling them that they are poverty stricken. That their women are not empowered. They disrupt the way of life in the indigenous communities because the indigenous live off less than 2 dollars a day. The NGOs do not realize that the indigenas live off the land. But who cares about the perseverance of indigenous culture? If it is a product of post-colonial guilt, shouldn't we move on? Can't you see that I am more frustrated than before? I have so many questions. The only thing I have truly come to terms with the fact that my academic past and confidence was a product of me having my eyes shut. I used terms that were not even defined yet. And here I am, alone all over again. University College has made me an introvert. The social events, the tensions, the non-political relations on our floor that were in fact political tensions bubbled through. And all I know is that La Malinche and I were always more similar than I could have wanted. I hate it. I do not want to be La Malinche. Who ever wants to be her? I guess it is my shroud now and I must wear it out of obligation. So I shall wear it with pride. Out of the cerebral readings of constructivism and Wendt in the pantomime of bizarre occurrences in my life (Guyana, Generals, Girls, and Gigs), I was able to hold onto the most concrete thing here: Gunperi. I think I would have wilted away had it not been for her. She reminded me why I was here. I was here to learn. Always looking out for me, she is reason I pushed on.

Its been quite the ride for the past semester. Since all has been demolished, there's only one way to go and that is to rebuild. But who ever said that it was bad. It means once I have rediscovered what humanity really means and the meaning of "universality" if there really is one will be strong and resilient to attack. When someone asks me why indigenous people matter, I will be able to tell them. But for now, I know that it just does. Hopefully I will find those answers and be what Todorov deemed as political perfection: the man for whom
the whole world is as a foreign country is perfect. Oh how identity flux has made a mockery of my existence. The only place to go to now is forward.

Espero que la salida sea alegre, y espero no volver jamás. -Frida Kahlo

1 comment:

  1. Hey chica, have some hope. If it helps, i see the statement by todorov in a different light:

    "the man for whom the whole world is as a foreign country is perfect"

    I see this more as a affirmation of why I came to AU: I see the world (the U.S. and other countries) as a place to explore, as a place that I can't ever fully comprehend, with different people and cultures that I am dying to visit in order to understand.

    I think you and most other people at AU also share this desire. They desire to explore and help another country as your own. Not to necessarily force the views and policy of our country on others, but to help build the world from our own experiences.

    I think we're all foreigners in the world. Ready to learn.