Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Walls and Barriers, part 2

Nehemiah, as it turns out, is quite modern.

You've got an oppressed people group trying to settle down in a place they can call their own. Their city is a trash heap and they've got some pretty powerful opponents who are prepared to implement a bag of tricks ranging from defamation to rumors of treason to terroristic activities--whatever it takes to get their way. The oppressed people aren't afraid to get their hands dirty: the jewelers, perfumers, even the daughters of some mid-level ruler are taking part in the reconstruction. And they're doing a good job. So good that they're attracting the wrong kind of attention, and they start getting death threats. The kind that people take seriously. But they keep working from sunup until the stars come out, with lots of prayers, armed guards at key points, and most of the laborers working with their swords strapped to their sides. That's dedication. And even though I'm only up to chapter five, I don't think I'm ruining the story for you if I tell you that in the end? They win.

And I think about this in light of the situation in that favela. I doubt telling this story to five and six year olds will cause any kind of insurrection, but it perks my imagination. What if the people who lived there ignored the death threats? If they took seriously their desire to have a better life and didn't let better armed and certainly better prepared punks take it away from them? Oh...that would be a good day.

As prayer seems to be the first weapon in these kinds of situations, it's the only one I'm going to be wielding for now. Because I'm kind of revolutionary at heart...and I want to see justice inhabit the streets of Manguinhos.


Rachel said...

well, if you ever decide to start a revolution, i'll be on board :)

ps. All of the homeless people in my neighborhood mysteriously disappeared during Carnival and only one or two have come back. These are people I saw every day for the past 7 months. Any idea what happened?

--jenna said...

that's an easy one for me, now that i've lived here for a couple of years...we could never figure out why the street kids were missing after carnaval. it turns out that in centro and the zona sul, the authorities ship the "undesireables" out to other areas of the city so they don't bother (or be an eyesore for) the tourists...

Rachel said...

that's very rudy giuliani of them. oy vey.