The Work Ahead: Adopt the Language of Hope

Contemplate these words: deceit, manipulation, power, mentiroso (liar), war, occupation, unaccountability, silencing, oblivious, consciousness, resistance, hope, laughter, creation, universe, reconnection, song, love, peace, fulfillment, sovereign. The words come to me spontaneously. Taken together, they must have a larger meaning. So too their order.

I write this because I'm concerned about my spiritual health—and about the spiritual, mental and physical health of those around me. Who can be happy at a time when militarization, dehumanization, environmental degradation and Big Brotherism have become governmental policy? Who can be hopeful when the taking of our rights is no longer even questioned, and when being incompetent in matters of war and governance is praised and rewarded? Who can be happy when our leaders give us song and dance, rather than the pursuit of truth?

Yet we move on, but not with our heads in the sand. I look at my own words and see movement, rather than reaction. Perhaps you should pause and create a list of words in your own midst. After you finish, come back to this column. Really.

What did you find? Any words that heal, soothe or bring a smile to your face?

Did the words character, honor, integrity, and courage make your list? What is liberatory and speaks of living in a sovereign manner? What speaks to life and uplifting visions of a different world? What speaks to change and of something bigger than the politicos and their every-four-years illusion?

Did you leave any room for poetry—flower and song—in your life? Is there anything there about walking barefoot, or in someone else's moccasins? Where would they lead us, and what would we learn if we followed their footprints? As writer Sandra Cisneros implores us: “Remember that we are capable of working for peace by being peaceful every day.” Perhaps what we seek necessarily begins at home.

Do the words in our midst actually tell us something about ourselves? Can changing them really change us and our relations with others, and can that help bring peace to the world? Or is that the epitome of naiveté and political correctness?

When our leaders tell us that it is necessary to fight permanent illegal and immoral wars, have their words lost their meaning, or have they simply lost their legitimacy and credibility?

If it's true that we are what we eat, then the same can be said about the words we use: They define who we are. Adopting a new vocabulary is a start—but not enough (governments and corporations regularly do this). We must change who we are, seek the root of the truth (what the Maya call panche be) and always fight to rehumanize the world we live in. The words will follow. 

Regardless of how we all voted, this past election is history, and we're all living its consequences. If we want peace, if we don't want to live with regrets and in despair, then we must adopt not the language of fear, but the language of hope and dreams. To invoke a Puerto Rican expression: pa'lante. Forward.

Roberto Rodriguez's regular Column of the Americas, which he co-authors with Patrisia Gonzales, can be found at You can reach him at [email protected] Copyright 2005 Universal Press Syndicate.
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