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Monday, 2 April 2012

The Easter Activist

Christ of Abu Ghraib by Trill Zapatero

The men sat on the hill, looking out over the darkened city.

 “Look. Only you can know this. Tell no-one else. When it is done, you must flee.” He didn’t look at his friend, his face was drawn. His friend was not used to seeing him as he had been in the past few days. Serious, stressed even. Gone were the smiles and the serenity of the campaign. From the day they had arrived in the city, all had changed. The campaign had taken a new turn. Was this the end-game?

 He stood up and faced his friend. If this was the end-game, then it should be on their terms. “The only way we can rid our lands of this dreadful, exploitative system is to make allies and together we can rise up!” 

 His friend shook his head and looked at him. He signalled for him to sit, to calm. “Believe me, what I have planned will mean the power of money will be diminished forever. We have shown through our actions and our activism that the only way for mankind to survive is for us to work together. To be as one. To share.” He clasped his hands and pointed them towards the other man. “ To make sure the weakest and most vulnerable have opportunity and the essentials in life. The Imperialist Occupier's system only brings poverty, greed, envy and betrayal.”

His friend was not for calming. His voice rose to almost a shout, “No! We must take up arms! These people arrest and torture our people daily. We have to show them we are not their slaves! They steal our resources and bribe our officials. Our spokes-people are in their pockets. They lie to the people and hide the truth from them. We have to fight back!”

 His friend turned and looked across the city again. He was deep in thought. It seemed like an age before he spoke again. His face lost its lines and the serenity returned. “Let’s not become like them. The way to win is through peace. Through living the change we want to see. You are much too impatient. Freedom can only be true freedom if it is won peacefully and by not engaging in their means.  They have no right to be here.  Our struggle is for a fair, independent country, fair for all.  Violence won't create fairness.”

 The man’s face looked pained. “You say that, but then only last week you exposed the exploitation of the poor and women by the money-men. You even blockaded their market!”

 “Yes. But that was different. I know I can’t stop this happening in all of the places it happens, but I chose to blockade the main place they profiteer. The message from that day will be distorted and suppressed if we don’t make sure the entire message we have been trying to spread is given to all of the people.”

 He sat beside his friend. He was calmer. He knew what his friend was asking him to do now; something so terrible yet something, he knew, would change everything. “They own the voices. The people only hear from those who are in the oppressor’s pockets. I still think we should attack them. Attack a barracks. They will have to report that.”

His friend placed his hand on his shoulder and looked at him. “But then, you know, our message will be lost. Our message of freedom and of peace gets lost in the act of violence against them. As you said, only their voice gets transmitted across the land. Our act of violence would be transmitted as an act of terrorism. We can’t let that happen.”

 Something happened. A moment of absolute understanding. The years wandering through villages and towns, teaching equality and love were coming to fruition. He knew that now. Even though he knew, he had to play the conversation out. “Then what are we to do? All of our work, our activism, our agitation will be lost because they control everything!”

 “They don’t control everything. They don’t control us. We are many. We can spread out across the land and bring our message to the people. I blockaded their trade. We occupied the place they made their profits. They want me now.”

  He studied his friend closely. Was he afraid? If he was, it didn't show. “But you know they will punish you, even kill you.”

 “And that is their downfall. We use their violence against them. My capture or death will mean our message lives on. If the profiteer is guilty of killing the message of peace, then the message of peace will spread. They will have lost and people will take heart against the occupiers.” He smiled. “You are my true friend. You must do this. Go to them. Tell them where I am.”

 “This will split our group. What of our money?”

 “Use it to make sure you all have places to stay, and have food to eat. Travel to the heart of their empire. Send letters out to all people who preach peace. How much money do we have?”

 He detached the bag from his belt and held it up. “Thirty pieces of silver…”

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