December 9, 2011
By Nelly D.
I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the SOA Watch vigil this year. It was a profound experience of meeting and connecting with women and men who struggle for justice and peace, and in a way makes it possible for the aspirations for freedom, respect for life and dignity of human beings to have a channel for bringing together the creative and defiant energies against this system that is a generator of death.
I want to highlight the things that particularly touched me:
The active presence of young people renewed my hope and charged my spirit with joy and gladness. I loved especially the fluidity of the intergenerational contact: young people learning from the experiences and struggles of adults from different countries; and adults, trusting in the skills and talents of young people and contributing to the development of this event.
The women were involved in all aspects, shoulder to shoulder with the men. That was very gratifying, based on my experience in Honduras, where women have to fight to participate on an equal footing with their male peers.
The sense of being part of a people, larger than where we were born into. To feel the universality of the struggle, unity in diversity and the high level of solidarity with the suffering that this militaristic ideology causes and has caused to have made death a very lucrative business. With this experience the words of Juan Ramon Moreno, one of the Jesuits murdered on November 16, 1989 (in El Salvador), echoed strongly:
Solidarity happens when we let the pain of others be felt in our own flesh.
Every person killed that we named in the vigil, no matter where they were, was not an unknown; they were a brother, a sister who suffered in the depth of their heart. That pain we felt and the tears that we poured out were like a seal or covenant that unites us in the struggle for life. That pain was, for me, very healing, because I felt part of a people who journey together in the building of another world, a world for everyone, women and men, a world where differences build dignity, a world where peace and justice kiss, as the prophet Isaiah says.
Participating in this vigil reaffirmed my own personal struggles and the struggle that we as the Honduran people are making to build a fatherland, or rather a motherland that loves and cares for her children.
I returned to my country with the conviction that when people come together, when various peoples come together, that is what makes possible the transformation of realities of death into realities of life, and unity is what gives strength and empowers. This strength and this power of an organized and informed people has the capacity to break the oppressive power of death hoisted upon them.
Only the People save the People!
Nelly is a Mercy Associate in Honduras who was invited by the Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team to participate in the School of the Americas Watch rally and vigil at Fort Benning, GA. The Sisters of Mercy participate in that event each year to call for closing the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Some graduates have been implicated in atrocities in their home countries. For more information read Sister Michelle’s statement of solidarity and her own impressions of the School of the Americas rally.