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Preface by Eduardo Gallano

 

REMEMBERING

 

 

The new millennium is just around the corner. Nothing to take too seriously: After all, the year 2001 of the Christians is the year 1379 of the Muslims, the year 5114 of the Maya and the year 5762 of the Jews. The new millennium is born on the 1st of January thanks to a whim of the senators of the Roman Empire, that one good day set to break the tradition that called for celebrating New Years at the beginning of Spring. And the determination of years in the Christian era comes from another whim: One good day, the Pope in Rome decided to set a date to the birth of Jesus although nobody really knows when he was born. Time makes fun of the limits we invent for it, so as to make us believe that it (time) obeys us. But the whole world celebrates and fears those limits. It Ôs just an invitation: millennia come and millennia go, and the occasion is ripe for orators of inflamed speeches to tell us about the fate of humanity, and for doomsday preachers to announce the end of the world and general chaos. Meanwhile, time continues silently to tick towards eternity and mystery.

 

The truth is that nobody can resist. On a date such as this one, arbitrary as it may be, we all feel the temptation to ask ourselves how will the time that will be be. And God knows how it will be! We have only one certainty: in the 21st century, if we are still around, we all will be people from last century, and worse, we will be people from the last millennium. Even if we cannot guess the time that will be, we do at least have the right to imagine the time we want to be. In 1948 and in 1976, the UN proclaimed long lists of human rights. But most of humanity just has the right to see, to hear and to remain silent.

 

How about if we begin to practice the never proclaimed right to dream? How about if we hallucinate for a short while? Let's project past infamy. Let's imagine another possible world: The air will be free of all poisons that come from human fears and passions; on the streets, the cars will be squashed by dogs; people will not be driven by the automobile, nor will they be programmed by computers, nor will they be bought by supermarkets, nor will they be watched by television sets; the TV set will cease being the most important member of the family, and will be treated like the washing machine or the iron; people will work to live instead of live to work; penal codes will include the crime of stupidity that is committed by those who live to have or to earn, instead of living just to live, like the bird sings without knowing it is singing, and like the child plays without knowing that it plays; in no country will they imprison boys who refuse military service, but rather those who do want to serve; the economists will not call standard of living what really is standard of consumption, nor will they call quality of life what is quantity of things; the cooks will cease believing that lobsters enjoy being boiled alive; historians will stop believing that countries enjoy being invaded; politicians will stop believing that the poor enjoy eating promises; solemnity will cease being a virtue, and nobody will take seriously anybody else who cannot make fun of him/herself; death and money will lose their magic powers, and neither due to wealth or death alone will an SOB become virtuous and a gentleman; nobody will be considered a hero or dumb for doing what he/she thinks is fair instead of doing what is most convenient; the world will no longer be at war against the poor, but against poverty, and the military industry will have no choice but to declare bankruptcy; food will not be a merchandise, nor communications a business, because food and communication are human rights; nobody will die of hunger, because nobody will have indigestion; the street children will not be treated as if they were trash, because there will be no street children; rich kids will not be treated as if they were money, because there will be no rich kids; education will not be the privilege of those who can buy it; police will not be the curse of those who cannot buy it; justice and liberty, those siamese twins condemned to live separately, will reunite, very closely, back to back; a black woman will become president of Brasil, and another black woman president of the US; an indian woman will govern Guatemala and another, Peru; in Argentina, the Women of the Plaza de Mayo will become examples, because they refused to forget in the times of compulsory amnesia; the Sacred Church will correct the errors in Moses'sTablets, and the Sixth Commandment will mandate to celebrate the body; the Church will also come up with another commandment that God had forgotten: You shall love nature, of which you are part of; the deserts of the world and of the soul will be reforested; the desperate will be welcome and the lost will be found, because they are the ones who despaired from so much waiting and got lost from so much searching; we will be contemporary neighbors of all those who search for justice and beauty, no matter where they were born, where they have lived, and regardless of boundaries in the maps or in time; perfection will continue to be the bored privilege of gods; but in this crazy and tough world, every night will be lived like it were the last and every day will be lived like it were the first.

Eduardo Galeano

Free translation from the Spanish by Claudio Schuftan, Hanoi.

 

 

 

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