Seeking Counsel from Diego and Frida
My friends don’t want me to be stressed out by the violence, caused by drugs, that is occurring in Mexico, and the attempts of the government to expose and bring to justice those who are harming Mexican society so grievously. When we walk along the streets in Mexico City, with its ubiquitous fountains and wonderful art, a city I like a lot, though breathing the air, after a few days, is a challenge, they snatch me away from kiosks where there are screaming headlines and lurid pictures of the latest atrocities. Brutal and grotesque messages from the drug cartels. I recognize and share the suffering I see in their eyes. It is our own suffering in the United States, as we’ve watched our disintegrating communities struggle against an enemy so implacably cruel that it is almost impossible to know how to respond to it. Countless lives have been broken, utterly, by this unequal and unexpected fight. And we have been abandoned by our government. In fact, our government has played for the other side. That this suffering should befall anyone is tragic, but that it should befall the people of Mexico, legendary for their warmth and hospitality, their generosity and patience, is deeply painful. So like ourselves they are, and have been.
Going into Frida and Diego’s house and studio, her side blue, his white, I am troubled for the people, and the country, they loved so much. And that I also love. They did not live in these times; what would they make of them? Inside, I saw, on a small round rug, a pair of Diego’s shoes. Enormous. I placed my own bare foot beside his shoe. Tiny, by comparison. I thought of their connected lives, their deep trust that in finding each other they had discovered a way to reach what was most profound, and perhaps most challenging, in themselves. What would they say to the people of Mexico today? Would they ask Mexicans, who so bravely fought a revolution, over a hundred years ago, to free themselves from foreign and domestic oppression, to remember to look for the root of their present calamity: poverty, hopelessness, too many children, beloveds, and kin, left behind in the wake of mass migrations North? Too many humiliations, brutalities and deaths, of people trying simply to locate, on this broad earth, a better life for those crossing borders and those left behind? To think of the loneliness, the desperation, the feeling of abandonment by everything that speaks of ease and joy in life. And naked hunger, and literal emptiness, that for a moment a drug can mask. It would be horrible, I think, for them to contemplate the wall that the United States has built in its attempt to keep Mexicans – whose hard work keeps so much of our economy going – out of Gringolandia (Frida’s word). I can imagine Frida’s proud scorn, and Diego’s bellow of defiance.
No one profits ultimately from the humiliation of others. Surely this is a law.
Hold dear your families and especially your children, which has always been paramount, for you, I imagine Frida and Diego saying. Insist on government that responds to your suffering, and if it does not respond, change it. This is a harsh passage, but only that; there will be, there must be, an end. The drug war is not just Mexico’s and not just the United States’ but a global struggle. It is for the people of the planet to say No to every kind of enslavement. Every kind of violence. They must gather in whatever ways they can to make their stand for the sake of humanity. Above all, do not abandon your faith that you can change your environment. You are a revolutionary people, a proven model for the world. Many people stand taller for the course your ancestors pursued. It is the consciousness of the whole world that has to change, and that change is happening. Not because of human enlightenment, necessarily, either, but because the earth is sending its own messages of atrocity that are far grimmer than those sent by the drug lords, in the form of earthquakes, fires, droughts, hurricanes and floods. Human beings will awaken to these noticias (news reports) from La Madre, (The Mother), or perish.