"Can a book explode like a bomb?" asks Mexican author Elena Poniatowska. Can questions and words explode? Just wanted to share an intriguing thought & some ideas from a Chicano point of view FROM UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE FOR RELEASE: WEEK OF JAN 3, 2003 COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS by Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez SWORDS, STONES, WATER, WORDS THE STORY OF SWORDS In the old times, the sword fought with the stone, the tree and the water. The tree said it was stronger, until it was cut down by the sword. The rock and sword fought 'til they both cried and one was dissolved to pieces and the other made dull. But water did not boast. It just let the sword thrash until it settled in water's recesses, and rusted and dulled to stillness. This is old Antonio's story about having patience like water, of fighting like water. It is a parable of indigenous knowledge and how native peoples have survived Europeans who came thrashing with swords, or Mexican troops that thrashed the jungles and villages of Chiapas, as told by Subcomandante Marcos in "Questions and Swords: Folktales of the Zapatista Revolution" (Cinco Puntos Press, $22). Old Antonio is a real person who symbolizes Zapatismo and appears often in the subcomandante's poetic communiques. The book is illustrated by Domitila Dominguez, a Mazateca Indian, and Antonio Ramirez, and includes essays by Simon Ortiz and Elena Poniatowska. Nine years since the Zapatista Army for National Liberation declared its "war against oblivion," and the Zapatistas are still water. Little is heard of them. And now the world awaits the amorphous world war against terrorism. The president takes the first smallpox vaccination as the United States prepares for germ warfare. Which of us will fight like trees and bend in the storm, which of us will be like rocks against the harsh climate to come, and which of us will flow like water through war's palm? Or fight like the sword, as old Antonio says, against a wild animal? Which of us will become the sword, the rock, the tree, the water? Old Antonio recounts: "This is what our grandfathers did. ... They resisted like water resisted the most savage of blows. The foreigner came here with his power and scared the weak. He thought he had won, but with time he became old and full of rust. The stranger ended up in a corner full of shame and without understanding why, if he had won, he ended up lost." A native elder commented following the Sept. 11 attacks, "Now they (the United States) will know what it means to suffer." "We will never forget," read 9/11 bumper stickers. Yes. None of us should ever forget. Smallpox blankets distributed by the U.S. Army decimated indigenous peoples, and we know native people who reject used closing because of that memory. In Mexican bakeries, the memory of the smallpox epidemic brought by Europeans is preserved in the "cocol," or smallpox cookie. It is pocked with sugar. Cocoliztli is the Nahuatl word for illness. This is how the stories are kept alive. So that someone will ask, why? Telling the story is "living the story" and the living of history, writes Acoma poet and author Ortiz in his essay, "Haah-ah, mah-eemah/Yes, it's the very truth." "Indian people know history is lived in the time and the moment it is taking place. History is in the moment. History is not the past. Nor is it the future. And you ask questions so you will know history is taking place. You live history therefore," he writes. "And with our questions, that is the history we are living." All over the world, indigenous people are struggling for life itself: the water, the air, the lungs of the Amazon and the Earth, genetically modified foods and our food chain. We do not fight only for ourselves. We fight for everyone, for the Earth herself. What will be of the water? What will be of our cornfields? What will happen to the people? What will we do today that will tilt the universe toward justice? THE STORY OF QUESTIONS "Can a book explode like a bomb?" asks Mexican author Elena Poniatowska. Can questions and words explode? But now to ask questions is unpatriotic, un-American, undermining, uncaring, unforgivable, undoing. Listen to old Antonio: "This is how the true men and women learned that questions are for walking, not just for sitting around and doing nothing. And since then, when true men and women want to walk, they ask questions. When they want to arrive they take leave. And when they want to leave, they say hello. They are never still." Can words bend a sword? Let us change history with our questions. Unsilence our truth. Unread the lies. And, as the old ones say, let us become like rushing water. COPYRIGHT 2002 UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE *** Advancing the Cause of Humanity awards: We will shortly be honoring people, grups and organizations that have advanced the cause of humanity. If you would like someone honored, please forward their name and a brief reason as to why they should so be honored. Please reply to: <A HREF="mailto:XColumn@aol.com">XColumn@aol.com</A> There are no monetray rewards. Its purpose is simply to expose readers across the nation to those that toil daily to make this world a better place to live. (Please sign your name also) Thanks in advance Roberto Rodriguez & Patrisia Gonzales Column of the Americas Column of the Americas is posted every Friday and archived under "Opinion" at www.uexpress.com Gonzales & Rodriguez can be reached at 817-929-3805 or XColumn@aol.com If you would like to see it in your local newspaper, please call/write your local editor. For speaking availability, publications and other info, call/write us or visit us at: http://hometown.aol.com/xcolumn/myhomepage/index.html For information regarding CANTOS AL SEXTO SOL, go to Wings Press ( http://www.wingspress.com/) or firstname.lastname@example.org Please ask for it at your favorite local bookstore and library. It will soon be available online through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. * For Information regarding the Aztlanahuac Project, write to: <A HREF="http://www.beacon.org,">Aztlanahuac@aol.com</A> 817-929-3805 or go to the informational page at: http://hometown.aol.com/aztlanahuac/myhomepage/index.html * IF LINKS ARE NOT ACTIVE, CUT AND PASTE.