This week, I’m thinking a lot about the residents of San Bartolo Ameyalco, Mexico whose resistance to the extraction of community water resources turned violent last week in the latest of what the State Department has predicted will be an increasing number of conflicts over water resources.
Working for the past few years on a campaign challenging corporate control of water has sensitized me to the political, economic and public health aspects of water. As the basis for all life, water has the potential to be a profoundly unifying shared interest and foundation for movement-building. You can find much more on that at the campaign website, but in this space I’m offering a tribute to the very personal, emotional, even spiritual connection each of us has with this life-giving element.
From bathing to drinking to washing dishes, every day I benefit from the gifts of the natural environment and the previous generations’ investments in the infrastructure that supports my lifestyle. So in honor of the global movement for water justice and in tribute to our daily relationship with this life-giving element, I’m welcoming June with three songs that speak to my relationship with water far better than my words can:
I’m welcoming May with Ana Tijoux’s Shock, which celebrates Chile’s student protests for universal access to education and an equitable future. The title is a reference to the neoliberal “Shock Doctrine” imposed on the country through the CIA-backed coup of September 11, 1973 and the dictatorship that followed. The regime combined brutal military rule with harsh economic austerity, which included public school closures and the implementation of enrollment and tuition costs which restricted access for students with limited means. I won’t attempt to summarize the history, but for anyone unfamiliar, a good starting-point is Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, which gives a useful perspective on the Chilean coup as well as its relationship to the broader era it helped to usher in.
Today’s student protesters invoke this history to resurrect the demand for equitable distribution of democratic and economic power, beginning with education for all. Some concessions have been won, including a reduction on the interest rate on student loans, but the work is not done: in November, four student leaders won seats in Chile’s Parliament. There is good reason to hope that the struggle for justice will continue.
Ana Tijoux, whose family was forced into exile by the coup, describes the protests as “a huge lesson about the ability to unite. This is reflected in her refrain: “No permitiremos más, más tu doctrina del shock:” we won’t allow your shock doctrine any more. It’s easy for all of us to feel disempowered by the forces that govern our lives and constrain our sense of what is possible. But by standing together, we demonstrate to each other the timeless truth that when we support each other to envision a better future, almost anything is possible.
Source Note: Since I’ve started sharing music here, I got a request to include the story of how I found each artist, when I can remember it. I’m pretty sure I first learned about Ana Tijoux when she was featured on Control Machete’s “Como Ves,” although it was several years later before I got a hold of her solo work, which is even more powerful. I saw Tijoux perform live two summers ago, and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time – if you get the chance, don’t miss her.
Winter in New England is so long that by the time the first crocuses bloom, I’ve just about given up hope for spring. Even after dozens of winters here, the euphoria of those first blossoms always comes as a surprise. Yesterday was my first sighting of spring flowers, so I have no choice but to welcome April with an exuberant song:
Faudel’s Je Veux Vivre is just the kind of optimistic, energetic tune I crave this time of year. It also makes a nice counterpoint to my earlier post about cheerful messages and depression. No doubt this song won’t be relatable for the truly depressed, but by keeping the tense in the first person, he avoids telling us how to feel, and just shares with us his own joyful experience. Hearing Faudel enumerate the many wonders he wants to live for inspires me to keep in touch with my own list. Music features prominently.
I can’t overstate the power of music. It is one of the few sources of inspiration that I don’t over-think, it has sustained me through rough times, provided the soundtrack to my best moments, and helped me feel connected, energized and ready to charge ahead. So I’d like to welcome each new month on this blog with a song, starting with one of my favorite videos of all time. If we could all “be what I am” and love ourselves like Mariposa Solar, life would be so much richer.
Enjoy, and welcome the new month with me!
Countering ingrained assumptions: writing is integral to my un-learning process.