I FEED ON ABSTENTION

I FEED ON ABSTENTION @zapata_zos

“A young man, feeling lost and alone, pleaded with his ancestors to teach him how to live his life. “What do I do with my days? What is my purpose? How can I reconnect with you, my fathers and mothers?” he asked every night, for many months, kneeling by the river where his forebears had lived and died — the sacred site of many memories and stories. One of those ancestors, summoned to the young man’s unending tears, answered him with the wind: “Come with me”, the mysterious words said, sailing past his ears in a gentle breeze. Moments later, the young man found himself by a huge rock in the desert. The voice came again: “Push against the rock with all your might.” That was all the voice said, vanishing even before it had finished appearing. The young man reckoned himself quite able to the task — why else would he be required to move this rock if his guiding spirits didn’t think he could do it? So he got right to it.

Many days went by. Shadows roamed the parched surfaces of his struggle as the sun came up and yawned to bed. Sinister slit eyes shone during cold harsh nights, observing the young lad huff and puff with nothing to show for it. Even they couldn’t be sinister for too long. In time, sun, shadow, moon, sweat and lurking ghosts left him alone. The young lad fell to the floor, defeated. He had nothing more to give. He was thirsty, but his grief was overwhelming. He cried out to the skies: “Why?” That orphaned breeze flew past again, uttering words of approval. The young man, confused, asked how his failure could be rewarded: it was plain to all who cared to see that he had not moved the rock a tiny little bit.

The voice came back: “We asked you to push at the rock. Not to move it. Moving things is not your job.”

In my personal life I can identify situations where I can feel myself in that young man’s shoes. This story, which comes to me via Bayo Akomolafe, an African friend, together with the caricature of Zapata, circa 1.989, already premonitory of our democratic irresponsibility, resonate to me especially from the point of view of what happens in Venezuela at this moment in time.

As a citizen I feel like that young man, frustrated and angry for not being able to remove from my path the rock of the dictatorship that oppresses us. The citizens of Venezuela have marched, fought in the streets, protested and expressed our disagreement with the system that keeps us suffering one of the most serious humanitarian crises that human history has seen, and the only thing we can show for that struggle is a change in the international perception of the regime, which is now known for what it truly is: A government led by criminals and drug dealers. Whatever we did has been achieved at an incredible cost of dead, wounded, imprisoned, tortured, and exiled human beings.

Now the regime is organizing regional elections for state governors, for which they have all the military advantage, logistics, and the abuse of power of the organ that handles the vote counts. Parallelly, many of the citizens who participated in the struggle against the regime are going to ventilate their frustration by abstaining from voting, because they blame the opposition leadership for our failure to remove the dictatorial regime and replace it with a democratic system.

I confess that I also blame them. Someone has to be responsible for this failure, or not? However, if I put myself in the shoes of that leadership, I realize that I, with all that I have studied, with all that I know and despite the fact that I consider myself a full and capable citizen, perhaps I could not have done a better job than they had done, since we were fighting on the ground where the enemy has the advantage, using all their military might to indiscriminately annihilate civilians all over the country.

Ordinary citizens, like you and me, have been endowed with a weapon more powerful than any firearm, and we will not have to expose our life to use it. We must also remember that it is the only weapon that has caused real damage to the regime.

That weapon is the vote, which I intend to use this Sunday. I will do so despite of all the anger and frustration that I feel. Or rather, I will use all my rage and frustration against the real enemy. If I refrained from using it, I would not only indirectly aid the regime that oppresses me, but that rage and frustration would become a resentment with which I would have to live the rest of my life.

This Sunday I will vote, not for a specific opposition candidate. I will vote against the candidate of the regime, it is as simple as that, and I will do it for my country, for my family and for myself. That is all that I have been asked to do — to continue pushing the rock of the regime to the bottomless pit where it belongs. Moving it is not my job.

Helio Borges

Instagram: @heboga
Twitter: @hborgesg

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Helio Borges

Helio Borges

Executive & Team Coach & Mentor. Cultural Transformation Change Agent & Consultant. Twitter: @hborgesg. Instagram: @heboga. FB: helio.borges.35. Uriji: @hborges