Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
On Second Street
Henry A. Giroux
Slippin' & Slidin'
Deliver Us From Reverends
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Dreams And Another Look At The Year 2000
The new millennium is upon us. Its not something to be taken all that seriously considering the fact that the year 2001 of the Christian era is the year 1379 of the Muslims, the year 5114 of the Mayans and the year 5762 of the Jews. The new millennium will begin on January 1st by a whim of the Roman Senators, who one fine day decided to break with the tradition that called for celebrating the new year at the beginning of spring. The Christian countdown results from yet another whim: one fine day the Roman Pope decided to ascribe a date to the birth of Jesus, although no one knew when he was born. Time laughs at the limits we invent so we can believe it obeys us. Nevertheless, the whole world celebrates and fears this frontier. It has become an invitation to every sort of conjecture.
Millennium here, millennium there, the occasion gives rise to all manner of exaggerating orators holding forth on the destiny of humanity. For those who would have us believe in Gods wrath, there are predictions of the worlds end, accompanied by great chaos. Meanwhile, time continues, without a word, its long march through space and mystery. The truth is, no one can resist. On such a date, arbitrary though it may be, most of us experience the temptation of asking ourselves what the time to come will bring. Who knows what it will bring. We have but a single certainty: in the 21st century, if were still here, well all be 20th century people. Worse yet, well be people of the last millennium.
Although we cannot imagine the time to come, at the very least we have the right to imagine how we would like it to be. In 1948 and 1976 the United Nations proclaimed extensive declarations of human rights; but the vast majority of humanity possesses no rights other than those of watching, listening and remaining mute. What would it be like if we began to exercise the never proclaimed right to dream? What if we raved without constraints for a while?
us fix our eyes beyond infamy and imagine a possible world. The air would be
cleansed of all pollution, except that which emanates from human fear and human
passions. In the streets automobiles would be run over by dogs; people would
neither be driven by cars nor programmed by computers nor bought by supermarkets
nor stared at by TVs. The television would cease to be the most important
member of the family; it would be treated like the iron or the washing machine.
People would work to live instead of living to work. The crime of stupidity
would be added to the penal code, a crime committed by those who live to
accumulate or hoard rather than simply to livelike the bird that sings
without knowing that it sings or the child who plays without being aware it is
playing. No nation will imprison its young men for refusing to go to war, but
those who insist upon going.
Economists will no longer measure standards of living by levels of consumption nor the quality of life by how many things one owns. Cooks will no longer imagine that lobsters enjoy being boiled alive. Historians will no longer believe that countries appreciate being invaded. Politicians will no longer conclude that the poor are happy eating promises. Solemnity will no longer be considered a virtue, and no one will take anyone seriously who cannot laugh at him or herself. Death and money will lose their magic powers, and neither through death nor fortune will the criminal become a sainted knight. No one will be thought of as a hero or a fool for doing what they believe is just rather than what most benefits them. The world will no longer go to war against the poor but against poverty. And the weapons industry will be forced to declare itself bankrupt.
Food will no longer be considered merchandise nor communication a business, because food and communication are human rights. No one will die of hunger because no one will die of indigestion. Street children will no longer be treated as if they are garbage because there will no longer be children living in the streets. Rich children will no longer be treated like money, because there wont be any rich children. Education wont be the privilege of those who can buy it. The police wont be the curse of those who cannot buy them. Justice and freedom, those Siamese twins condemned to separation, will finally be rejoined, back to back and inseparable.
A black woman will be the president of Brazil and another black woman the president of the United States of North America. An Indian woman will govern Guatemala and another Peru. In Argentina, the Locas de la Plaza de Mayo will be held up as examples of mental health, because during the time of obligatory amnesia they refused to forget. The Holy Mother Church will correct the errors on the Tablets of Moses, and the Sixth Commandment will order delight in the body. The Church will also dictate another commandment, one that God forgot: "You will love nature, of which you are a part." The worlds deserts will be replanted, along with the deserts of the heart. The desperate will find satiation and the lost will be found, because they are the ones who became desperate from waiting so long and lost from searching so desperately.
We will be the compatriots and contemporaries of all those willing to work for justice and beauty, no matter where they were born or where they live. The frontiers of maps and of time will become meaningless. Perfection will continue to be the boring privilege of the gods, but in this clumsy and messed up world, each night will be lived as if it were the last and each day as if it were the first. Z
Edward Galeano is writer from Uruguay; this English translation is by Margaret Randall.