“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”—Voltaire

The absurd belief that…

We are God’s chosen people, the superior race, the greatest country on Earth, the true religion, and the moral majority…

Has been used to support Torquemada’s inquisition, burning women of knowledge, the systematic killing of 100-150 million natives of the Americas, the destruction of entire civilizations, the torture and death of 5 million Jews in Hitler’s concentration camps, World War II, human sacrifice, slavery, the cruelty of empires, the Tea Party, and a century of American atrocities all over the world.

Immigrants are destroying our economy, an otherwise underprivileged minority is plotting to rule the world, and the poor and downtrodden have it good…

Has been used to justify the expulsion of Jews from many countries throughout the centuries, Hitler’s “ultimate solution,” the killing and hunting of Latins around the border, the Tea Party, Donald Trump, the imprisonment and harassment of minorities all over the world, massacres, concentration camps, economic warfare against racial minorities, military intervention.

Someone hates the freedoms of the USA, Christianity is under attack, the white race is been unfairly treated…

Has been used to bomb, torture, rape, and kill millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Panama, Colombia, Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Granada, El Salvador, and the United States of America.

The Earth is flat…

Has been used to burn people alive for heresy, torture, invasions, keep the poor uneducated, stop scientific funding, and identify people online who would be all too easy targets for one or more of the absurdities above.

Gays, satanist, feminists, liberals, atheists, masons, gender non-conformists, communists, and witches are plotting to rule the world, destroy civilization, sacrifice children, or attack the long abused white man…

Has been used to spread fear, deny human rights, discriminate, incarcerate, suppress, and attack minorities.

Let us learn to think.
And from silence to silence,
let thought meet its end.

The “no” of my father

I remember a dark sunset in July of 1975, when we were returning to San Salvador with my dad. Just a few hours before, a massacre had taken place when the government of El Salvador opened fire against a non-violent student demonstration. More that 100 university students died that day. In the pickup truck were my father, a 17-years-old girl my father was driving to her family, and I, who was then a 10-years-old boy entering that age in which one learns how to be a man. Upon reaching the capital city, my father did not see the soldier gesturing for him to stop.

Fatal error! We didn’t see the soldier, due to the dusk or distraction–who knows? The fact is that we went beyond the point where we had to stop, and a group of soldiers formed a barrier to receive us, just like death itself when she tells us that from this point we won’t go forth.

My dad stopped the car. The soldier, who had been ignored, would now pour his thirst of self-importance and hunger for power on that driver who had ignored him. He yelled and berated my dad, saying he had broken the law and that for not obeying authority now he could die. My father, calmed and well mannered, apologized. He explained that he did not see him, that his intention had not been to offend. I remember the soldier with his yelling and the cruelty in his smile. Another soldier moved to my side of the pickup truck we rode on, with his shot gun aimed at my right temple. Other soldiers moved among the shadows, walking near and far. The girl next to me, cold and pallid, fearing rape and death.

That demon, dressed as a soldier, seizing his opportunity for profit and cruelty, told my father to walk towards that shadowy area behind us, beyond the bus stop.  I kept glancing back to the shadows behind the bus stop, ominous with an evil that laughed at hope. And back the attention would go to the nuzzle of the gun on my right. I saw a couple more soldiers walking, bored and uninterested. We all knew the script. It was impossible to live in El Salvador in the seventies without knowing what was to follow. My father would obey, the soldiers would take his shirt, his shoes, his dignity, and his life. The girl would pay with her innocence and perhaps her life. In my mind reigned confusion and fear, rage and the stink of death.

I’m not sure how it came to pass that such sequence of inevitable destiny was interrupted. Perhaps it was when I heard the voice of my father saying “no.” Or perhaps it was when I saw the soldier looking at him with incredulity, asking him what he had said, if he was crazy, if he wanted to die. The soldier told him he’d have one more chance to save himself, to move, to be reasonable, to obey. My dad said “no;” and disregarding the threats and blows he was taking on the stomach from the soldier, to make my dad reconsider, to make him be normal and act within reason, my father continued to say his firm and gentle “no.”

Movete, hijueputa!” Uttered with the same authority the authorities all over the world are taught to command. “No,” was all my father said, with the resolute gentleness of one who has decided that if all is to end today, it will end like this, without violence inside, without surrendering to fear, without loss of dignity or stature.  Over and over, this happened. Each time, the soldier got more aggressive, hitting my dad hard on the stomach, making him bend over to catch his air. “Now, are you going to obey?”

“No.”

Other soldiers approached to see that strange thing, that man who without weapons said “no” to authority, to abuse, to a destiny preordained by others. The terror evaporated from my mind when I saw this. Inconceivable. The simple word of my father baffled the authority, confounded death, and the soldier became pale. I saw in his eyes an old fear, a recognition, an unspoken understanding that told him that it was impossible to make a man of will fold over. He saw himself small and afraid. He told my dad to go on, not to do it again, that this was his lucky day. With this show of magnanimity, he saved face.

Impressed in me forever now were my father’s eyes, calm and firm, and that “no” that made the world stop. The “no” to fear, to authoritarianism, to dogma, and to the lie.

My father got in the truck and drove away, rubbing his bruised belly. The girl and me next to him, still in shock but breathing again the air of the hot tropical night. A light smile appeared on my father. “My grandma hits harder,” he said.

Mama Spider

It is said somewhere that the mother spider, when the hunting has not gone well even after building the perfect tapestry of a thick, sturdy, heavy and sticky cobweb, she still manages to feed her children. They wait, somewhere unseen and protected. She walks towards the center. She lays down. She wraps herself up with her own string. Once she is completely covered, the way she would bind a fly, she taps on her web. She taps a signal designed to tell the children that there is game. The tinny little children come running. They need to feed this night or they won’t survive. They come to the mother and they begin to devour her, not knowing it is their mother. Thinking it is just an insect, just another nurturing bundle, they open her up. They go inside her belly and eat her from the inside out, devouring her completely.

Her sacrifice allows the children to grow into adulthood, to live one more night so they can go and hunt. So they can go and have other little children who would devour their mother.

Mama spider. Mama spider.

Weaving and forming. Teaching and feeding.

Out of your bowels we ate.

Out of your spirit we grew;

to hunt one more day,

and tomorrow.

So was the spirit of my mother, even when I did not see her.

From the depth of her corpse, I grew and came out.

The ladies of fate always seemed to be weaving a strange web around my mother: strange happenings, magical, astonishing and weird. A teacher in a school for poor children, she took it upon herself to help a child who reminded her of my younger brother. She didn’t know why she felt compelled to take him under her wing, to buy him a pair of shoes, to bring groceries to his mother. It was pure compassion, or motherly love springing from unknown currents in her soul. She wanted to take care of him and protect him. She brought this little boy to play with us. We took an instant liking to him. I took him outside to play soccer, to meet my friends, to talk, to be one of us. With his confused eyes full of wonderment and restrained joy, this boy joined us for a moment in our lives. A few months later he disappeared from our lives. He became a ghost, a shadow, a memory––like so many people in El Salvador, never knowing why, where, or when they went.

Years later, my father was in exile. Death squads came after him, and he managed to escape. One day, my mother was coming out of the school for rich kids where she was also teaching (she always worked at a rich school for the money, and at a poor school for the government pension). She was about to get into her car, when two cars with tinted windows blocked her in front and behind, and men with dark glasses came to her with even darker motives. They told her, “Ma’am, you’re coming with us.”

Those simple words filled her spine with a chill. She knew what was coming next. She knew. She could almost experience the ride in the back of their car. She could almost feel the boots on her face. She could predict the raping and the flame. She knew the cutting of the nipples. She knew the breaking of the teeth. She knew of the brutal interrogation of “Where is he?,” “What else do you know?,” and “Where are the others?” She knew the longing for death. She knew it was all coming to an end. She knew what followed. That time line was flowing right in front of her, and she was just about to be carried away in its current.

Her body paralyzed, she couldn’t move. It was just the coldness of certain death for her. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t react.

She only could say, “Me?”

“Yes ma’am, you’re coming with us now.”

Once again she repeated, “Me?” and the “Come with us” was the only answer, with a hand grabbing her by one arm, leading her to a sequence of events that were long ago written, and nothing at this moment––nothing, no one––could come to her rescue.

She was in that space where we found ourselves so many times in that jungle, when reality had become so hard, so heavy, that no escape is possible. No light, no hope, no brilliance seemed to exist, just the pulling into heavy hardness. This was the harshness of reality. And here she was, knowing that all she could do now was to follow this thread.

At this moment, at this exact moment, the driver of the car in front comes out. Dark glasses. From some remote whisper of awareness, she felt she recognized him. One day, a year or two before this, she went to the house of the little boy she had taken under her nurturing love–because he looked like my brother perhaps, or compelled by unknown oceanic depths. She had come to see the mother of the little boy that day, a year or two ago. She brought the child’s mother some food, shoes, shirts, love and compassion. When she was leaving, the father was approaching the house. The father of the illegitimate boy, in a suit and dark glasses said to her “Ma’am, I know what you’ve been doing for my son and I want to thank you for everything. For the love you’ve given him.” It was a brief encounter. She left. He went. And here he was now, again, same dark glasses and suit, driving a car for men of money and death, looking at the woman that was about to die under torture. There he was, telling the other men: “That’s not her. We’ve got the wrong one. Lets go.”

They left, and the specter of death vanished, and the lightness of being filled the flesh of my mother; tears coming out, of pain and joy; but more than anything, tears for having recognized the silver and red threads of the tapestry being woven by fortune.

And, as she tells the tale, the magic of the Kindly Ladies becomes entrenched in our consciousness, and our words. And so the mother spider weaves a thread. A chance meeting one day, a voice heard another day… moving… changing… Creating a knot here, a thread there. And so it went, this tapestry of light. My mother, always silent; always absent; always inside her cocoon of happenings; always surrounding us as we devoured her. Always giving. Always threading. Whispering. Silent. But providing the legs and the thread and the moving.

 

http://thetelling.libsyn.com/the-kindly-ladies-mama-spiders-invisible-story