August, 2011

Venezuela: Political Trauma

In recent days, news of President Hugo Chavez has been featured in much of the international media along with speculations about his health, possible successors and subsequent power struggles should he succumb to a very serious cancer. The current situation there brings to mind thoughts and memories of my 2010 seminar in Caracas. I was invited by Dr. Marie-Dolores Paoli who is known throughout South America for her pioneering work with Indigo children. Dr. Paoli and her staff suggested a topic of political trauma, which I resisted for a number of reasons, including the fact that I had never offered a seminar on that subject and am also unwilling to engage in any partisan agenda. Nevertheless, they insisted on this topic and after some lengthy negotiations I agreed to undertake this new challenge. Dr. Paoli then announced that some of her Indigo children would be attending my seminar, along with their parents, and this was also a new and very unexpected experience.
The city of Caracas is a dangerously violent place with one of the world’s highest accident and homicide rates. During the seminar it soon became apparent that much of the population live with a constant, all pervasive, feeling of threat. While there are many obvious reasons for this, such as poverty, overcrowding, addiction, and drug trafficking, it is important to understand the many layers of complexity that have shaped Venezuelan history. From a systemic perspective, together with other parts of Central and South America, the many levels of this multi-racial society cannot be understood apart from the ongoing legacies of colonialism. A thorough account of this historical reality is available in Eduardo Galleano’s, now classic, Open Veins of Latin America.
From a systemic perspective, specific personalities and political leaders are not the problem, but rather the symptoms of the problem…or problems. This is difficult to accept for those who wish to place singular blame on one particular leader or political party, without reflecting on the underlying dynamics that brought them into positions of power. Soon after my return to Argentina I received a surprising and deeply moving letter from one of the workshop participants, an eleven year old boy who identifies himself as an Indigo child. He thanked me for coming to Caracas, and overcoming my initial reluctance to address the topic of political trauma. He wrote that it was important for him and the other children that because I welcomed them into my seminar, this was also an acknowledgement for them and their parents, that Indigo children actually do exist. He then shared his own perspective on a remedy for the ongoing violence in Venezuela which is translated here from the Spanish.
“ Do you know what is needed in each Venezuelan home ? Even if it seems simple…A pleasant space inside the dwelling where pastel colors show the colors of our ancestors, a nice “taparita” (painted gourd) decorated with the savors of a fruit, a rain forest tree stick to honor the indigenous, a Spanish mantilla in the drawers of the women to honor the Spaniards, to also wear some pearls, place a drum, and a wooden tray to honor our African slaves, so that our homes would have the balance of truth with joy. We need to forgo the proclaiming of our patriotic souls and devote ourselves rather to the soul of being human, honor our creator and avoid religious images that call upon pain and darkness.
In short, he calls for every home to become “a temple of peace”. Whether or not one believes in the existence of the Indigos,, this “child’s” letter offers much for reflection.

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