The Time for Resignation and Silence is Over

Thursday, July 23, 2009

For centuries people have been absent from the centers of power. The power of men –even today less than 8% of decision-making power is in the hands of women- accustomed to wielding absolute control over the lives of their vassals. Submissive and silent, in the best of cases they have at least been invited to vote. And that’s fine. I am very much in favor of voting in all elections, perhaps because I dreamed of having that right for so many years. But it’s not enough to have our opinions counted once in a while. As I have often written and said, democracy is actually being taken into account, and not merely having your vote counted.

The history of mankind is the history of submission, of unreservedly applying the perverse adage “if you want peace, prepare for war” which, logically, has given rise to an interminable succession of battles, confrontation and conflicts. The history of mankind is a bloody history, full of heroes, martyrs, unknown soldiers, mothers and families dressed in mourning…

At the end of the two great wars of the 20th century an attempt was made to unite all nations in peace, dialogue, and peaceful conflict resolution. But this was prevented by the great consortium of weapons manufacturers. And the inertia of the governing classes, who considered the people’s role in power to be that of mere foot soldiers, rather than the object and beneficiaries of their efforts. And having fallen prey to fear, citizens remained silent and contemplated the events around them as something totally inescapable.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, based on equal dignity for all, was intended to free mankind from “fear and want”. Everyone “free and equal… and acting towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. It was essential to share, to dare to change, to implement that profound transition from subjects to citizens, from spectators to actors, from a culture of force and imposition to a culture of dialogue and conciliation.

The requisites for doing so are twofold: an awareness of reality to be able to transform it, and the willingness to dare to peacefully raise our voices, to make ourselves heard, to force them to listen.

As I wrote some time ago, “when we observe the world as a whole we realize how seriously irresponsible it was to transfer to the marketplace the obligations of our political leaders who, guided by ethical ideals and principles, would be able to implement democratic governance. When we observe the damage done to the environment –the air, oceans and land-; the progressive standardization of cultures, whose diversity is our wealth (while being united by universal values is our strength); the erosion of many relevant aspects of the democratic process that we built with our tireless efforts… The lack of response from individuals and institutions, and the resignation and indifference of so many is totally inadmissible.

The silence of those who have been silenced can be forgiven. The silence of those who choose to remain silent cannot. Taking advantage of the emotive reaction to the present crisis, it is urgent to make ourselves heard personally and, above all, as institutions. The scientific, academic, intellectual and creative communities… cannot remain in awe, perplexed and silent. They must join the powers-that-be –governments, parliaments …- to help build the democracy we yearn for at the national, regional and global levels.

Let no one who is aware remain silent. “The voice / that could have been the answer / but for fear / was nothing…” Or even worse: “once more / death will be / the price of silence / and indifference”.