My third day of school, and most likely my last day!
Today, Isai wants to give me yet another gift. Geez.
I want to give some gifts. I have brought organic seeds to class and some posters from the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development – the one that led up to the Kyoto agreement – you know, the agreement to protect the earth that the u.s. wouldn’t sign forever.
I am at Isai’s secondary school class by 7:45am, in time for the english lesson. School begins at 7am and is out at 1pm. I pronounce the words in english for the students and then I help them write a letter in english, if they ask for my help. Several students do.
Before I get a chance to offer seeds and posters to the youth, Isai tells me he has another gift for me. I beg him not to keep giving me things.
Yesterday he gave me the lottery game I have been playing - in Spanish - with the students about places to visit in Mexico. And he gave me a map of the counties of Sinaloa.
He tells me he knows people have heard Sinaloa is a violent place but he assures me, it is not. It is a beautiful, tranquil place.
I want to ask him about the soldiers – marines – camped out on the dirt road where the houses and restaurants end and the river flows – but he is trying to hand me a bible. Oh gawd, a fuckin’ bible.
It gets worse. I try to refuse – first I try too many gifts, I can’t accept another one until he allows me to give, and then I try no, christo is not my god – and he, like any good evangelical christian, insists.
He says it is god’s book and I should take it – look, it is even in english for me! I say no, it is not my god. He wants to know who, who, who could possibly be my god. I say goddesses, womyn are my god, because I know the word mujeres and he can’t seem to wrap his mind around diosas.
He asks, smilingly knowingly, if I am afraid to take the book. Maybe he does read fear in my face. If this was a musical I’m writing, I would break into Holly Near’s song right about now “I ain’t afraid of your bible, I’m afraid of what you’ll do in the name of your god”.
I tell him I have already read the bible – many times. It get’s worse.
I have told him – and I tell him again – I am a Jew, not a Christian, thinking he would back off. I ask him if he knows who Jews are.
He acts astonished when I say no, no christo for me. He asks me if I believe in science or god. I ask does he not think it is possible to believe in both?
All this in english and Spanish – verbal and written. And while the kids are milling about waiting to go to the head of the river and look for sea lions.
He drills me about death and my soul and aren’t I worried where I will go when I die. I should be worried about going somewhere when I die when I’m not sure where I’m going when I’m alive?
I tell him I choose to live the very best life I can, not because I am afraid of what will happen when I die, but because of THIS life and who I want to be NOW.
I see ridges of foam forming along the sides of his tongue as he struggles to enunciate clearly - in english:
The fire shoots from my eyes as I scribble as fast as I can in english and Spanish, leaving indentations on the page that I attempt to transfer to his ears, let alone his heart.
He flaunts his personal relationship with god over and over at this point. I want to ask about the pope, the priest and all that but by now I’m worried he is a fundamentalist and not just a fuckin catholic.
He tells me the world is going to be destroyed. I say yeah, the world will be destroyed by a few greedy men unless the people stand up and stop the destruction.
That’s when he tells me people are bad and god will punish the people. Wow, I’m so glad we didn’t have this conversation at my truck the first day we met and one of the kids asked me how I would describe my appearance. I should have said right then and there “I appear to be just what I am: a fuckin heathen and proud.”
Instead I said a bad kick-ass womon. He should have been forewarned.
I’m sure he would think I’m one of those “bad people” if he allowed himself to see me. I tell him I do not believe people are not bad but some people choose to do bad things.
Geez for someone who speaks such little english and someone else who speaks such little Spanish, how the hell did we get into this conversation?
Just goes to show what the goddesses provide.
He shoves the book at me again. I ask him if he’s read the Quran or the Torah or the Buddhist scriptures. He looks through me. I tell him I have. (at least bits and pieces)
I pick up the bible – no smoke rises, I regret to say – and hold it in his red face: THIS is the religion of the conquistadors, I say, those who reigned death, torture, destruction, great suffering over the people of this land.
This is the CONQUERORS religion that not only enabled them to kill but allowed them to justify that killing in the name of that god. I write furiously to make sure he gets it – or translates it later, maybe in church Sunday!
I ask him about his people’s religion BEFORE the Spanish came. Maybe he sees himself as a Spaniard, a conquistador progeny. His eyes glisten over.
He tells me god created all and god will destroy all. What the hell is it with these people and their craving for destruction? Then, as I frown, he tells me god is love, beautiful – he searches for and lists all the loving, kind words he can think of in english.
I tell him so there, if god is love, he will not destroy his creation, if indeed this is his creation. Isai wants to know how I know this.
I tell him because I too am a creator, a creator of life. I gave birth to a child and I know true, godly love does not kill, hurt, or destroy. Only men think that love is violent. Love is not violent.
He tells me people have to be punished. We have already had this conversation yesterday about disciplining the students when he brought out a large ruler that he said he uses to keep the kids in line – making them bend their forearm and whacking them on their bone just below the elbow. He said teachers can’t discipline in the u.s.
I said we must teach our children, ESPECIALLY our boy children, to use their words – and it must start with us. There are many ways to discipline without resorting to physical violence.
Isai tells me we will continue this conversation tomorrow. And god will destroy the earth. I tell him if god is so powerful, why would he need to destroy his creation in order to punish some of the people? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
I have taken the bible, because I want this struggle to be about beliefs not books, and he appears to be close to having a heart attack on the spot if I don’t take it. I’m thinking of all the things I might be able to use this fat book for: sitting on muddy soil, stuffing into a windy corner, sopping up veggie oil.
At least I’ve saved some other poor soul from having this book foisted onto them.