by Ricardo Levins Morales
During the same years that Simón Bolivar was warning the newly independent nations of Latin America that the greatest threat to their sovereignty was U.S. imperialism, and urged a strategy of unity and cultural independence in order to prevent a reconquest, the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa were warning the indigenous people of North America of the same dangers, and built a Pan-Indian alliance to unify the Native nations, restore indigenous cultural and spiritual values, and oppose U.S. expansion.
Two hundred years later, U.S. capitalism and imperial domination continue to be the greatest threats to sovereignty, democracy, economic, social and environmental justice inside and outside its borders, in Latin America and the world. The revolutionary processes now taking place in Latin America represent the most successful opposition to that threat, and have made it the most hopeful place on earth in a time of tremendous danger. The support and defense of an integrated, independent, egalitarian Latin America capable of withstanding U.S. domination is in the highest interests of all people, but especially of the people of the United States, whose liberation has always been deeply entwined, whether we knew it or not, with that of all of America. At the same time, everything we are able to do to weaken U.S. imperialism has impact around the world, but especially in Latin America.
These are series of speculations on what recent insights in a variety of areas of science could mean for a community based healing movement that includes amateur research infused with radical understandings of what we mean by health and environment, and high expectations for our own empowered potential.
Epigenetics is what scientists call the discovery that events in our environments can change the outer skin of our genes, change the way in which they express themselves, turning them off and on depending on how our bodies read the conditions of life, and that those changes get passed on to our descendents. Dutch women who survived the famine of 1944 gave birth to low weight babies, as expected, but when their children grew up, they also had low weight babies. The story of hunger clung to their DNA and passed on the traits appropriate to a permanent famine. Combat veterans pass on the changes in their own bodies that come with the constant threat of sudden and violent death, and the DNA of their children born after the trauma wears a coat of camouflage, expressed in the symptoms of PTSD.
But if hunger and terror tattoo the skins of our genes with outdated survival manuals and a continuous stream of SOS signals, if the conscious acts of human beings to deprive each other of food and safety and life itself, mark us in inheritable ways, surely we can decide to mark ourselves, through an entirely different set of human acts, with messages of solace and solidarity, with a codex of healing.