Monday, November 10, 2014

The "dangerous remembrance" of Jesus

By José María Castillo (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Teología Sin Censura Blog
November 10, 2014

The assassination of the five Jesuits and two employees of UCA (Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador), November 16, 1989, coincides on the same day and month with the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has been said that the events of that historic moment, not only in Europe but in Central America too, were "the ultimate metaphor of the triumph of freedom." And that, as Bertrand de la Grange, the Central American correspondent for Le Monde in those days, wrote, in November of '89 the world witnessed the "collapse of the Soviet bloc that condemned the armed struggle and accelerated the peace processes in Central America."

The coincidence (only a few days apart) between the murders at UCA in El Salvador, and the fall of the Wall in Berlin, represents the two sides of the struggle to achieve equality and freedom, two pillars on which human rights and peace in the world can be (and have been) built. To win this ideal, both those who fell at the Berlin Wall and those who were killed in El Salvador suffered and died.

Through opposite, and at first sight contradictory, ways, both groups died for the same cause -- the struggle for freedom and dignity. In the end, when it comes to achieving freedom, it doesn't matter whether oppression comes from the right or the left. In either case, they are stealing the greatest thing you can take away from human beings -- their dignity. And that's what was snatched both from the victims imprisoned by the Berlin Wall and the 4,000 or so Salvadorans who were killed in the two weeks of fighting between guerrillas, soldiers and civilians, starting November 11, 1989.

It's been said that was the offensive that opened the possibility for peace by making it obvious that the war could not be decided militarily. It was at this juncture, November 15th, that the Salvadoran army chiefs of staff decided to eliminate the "recognized leaders" that hindered them in their plan to continue to dominate the people. On the morning of the 16th, the UCA martyrs were killed.

The clear lesson all this leaves us is something that gives much food for thought: through the path of repression and domination, what we do is build walls and borders that divide us, separate and alienate us from one another. However, through the path of those who have given their lives because they can't bear inequality or lack of freedom, we take giant steps towards a world in which it will be possible to live in peace.

This is why I can assert that the ignorant fanatical stance of those who go on saying that all those who fought and died in Central America for the ideal of a more just, free and egalitarian society -- from Mons. Romero to the UCA Jesuits -- were just leftist political militants who were trying to impose a system of totalitarian domination, makes me very sad. Don't those who resort to these vulgar and hackneyed clichés realize that that whole process in Central America happened exactly at the time the Wall that separated the two blocs was going under and that this meant the end of the Cold War and the totalitarian system imposed by Communism?

So, can it be calmly asserted that Ignacio Ellacuría and the other Jesuits (like the peasants of El Mozote and so many thousands of dead in those months in El Salvador) were "the orphans of the Wall"? To those who dare take such a question seriously, I ask, "And what do we say about those who died to destroy the Berlin Wall forever? Were they enemies of justice and freedom too?"

Nothing troubles me more than people who don't think because they're incapable of thinking. Those who always think as others do are those who always live at the mercy of what matters to others, not what suits them. And this abounds a lot, now more than ever, to the misfortune of everyone.

I'm impressed by the freedom and consistency of Ignacio Ellacuría and those Jesuits. I myself saw it with my own eyes and felt it with my own hands when, shortly after the death of those martyrs, I had the great luck to be able to go to UCA to lend a hand -- for 16 years -- in the task of covering the vast void left by those witnesses to their deepest convictions, the convictions of the Gospel, the way of life etched in the "dangerous remembrance" of Jesus.

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