• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Solidarity: An Andean Anecdote

Rocks have to go from one pile to the other. Big rocks. Pick axing and shoveling loosens them from the earth. Then we can get them where they need to go. An uninterrupted time for meditation is the perk of the job so far.

Pick-ax. Move rocks. Pick-ax. Move rocks—and so on. The work itself embodies the definition of monotony. Repetition and sameness echo like ghosts that haunt the flesh inside worn gloves and all down a tense back into achy hamstrings. Construction motors along under the white-hot radiation of the Andean sun. There is plenty of musky-green coca leaf for us to chew.

The Spaniard takes charge of the guinea pig farm being built, but we lend a hand with a green house instead. Local school children do not get enough leafy green roughage in their diet, and copious amounts of starches lead to ubiquitous intestinal distress. The green house we build can grow kale and cabbage, and all sorts of verdure for them.

We are teachers, but we are on strike much like the rest of the schools in the mountains. This political unrest gives us a chance to lend a hand with the rocks and the green house. So, we do.

Watching the Spaniard order some French volunteers about in broken English entertains us far more than the idle lull that occurs between times of strike. And we get to know our European comrades, who willingly give of their time and money to these projects, but whose feelings about the present labor seem mixed.

We wheelbarrow a few loads more. There are always more rocks to move. Big rocks. Then it blossoms again—that beautiful and glorious tedium! More quickly than before, meditation takes root, and we are aware of our bodies under the sun. More coca parts our lips.

So many physical things warrant attention now. The body’s many hinges and articulations forever adjust to the loads. Joints conform this way and that, especially where body parts bear the potential energy stored in each load. Heavy loads. Muscles pull tendons and bones with every exertion of brute force. Human life courses our veins in the good hope of supplying our flesh with whatever little oxygen floats about at two miles in altitude.

Here there is commitment; here there is freedom; but there is hardly any air.

The Spaniard spies me with a wheelbarrow chock-full of stones and grunts, “Work! Work!” His great sense of humor electrifies the crowd. Who can help but chortle at the hyperbole in his shout?

Our manual labor seems glorious, albeit veiled under the umbral shadow of privilege. We know the denizens here who duplicate this work with incredulous frequency. They are our neighbors, after all. The ferocity of their labor even drives some to take hard drink early in the mornings. Of course, we call this labor ‘hard labor’ because it is seldom anything but hard. And yet, seldom applies to us here; we have the privilege to pick it up and leave it as we please.

We have that privilege.

The man who keeps the grounds we build on is here with us. We return the wheelbarrows and see him caught in a moment. Time to pull him out of it with a chat and a handshake (we suppose).

As we talk and download with one another, we consider the meaning of work. We agree that the teleological value in work is not actually found in the end goal, or even in the finished job. Every job ends; there is nothing unique about that aspect of work, especially not hard work. The value of this work comes from knowing that the guinea pig farm and the green house mean nothing upon completion unless the people building them firstly understand that sorority is what makes them great. Solidarity makes them great. Any construction erected with power but without understanding and togetherness is hollow, not hallowed. Together is what matters, and our construction cannot be anything without it.

Yes! Our solidarity makes a thing worth building.

The Peruvian groundskeeper still looks on ahead as he thumbs his red hat with a brown hand and parts his stained-green lips to talk. His motionless eyes never leave the distant horizon as he says, “That’s just it. That is everything in life.”

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel. 

 

 

More articles by:

Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel.

Weekend Edition
May 29, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Tim Wise
Protest, Uprisings, and Race War
Nick Pemberton
White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector
T.J. Coles
What’s NATO Up to These Days? Provoking Russia, Draining Healthcare Budgets and Protecting Its Own from COVID
Benjamin Dangl
Bibles at the Barricades: How the Right Seized Power in Bolivia
Kevin Alexander Gray - Jeffrey St. Clair - JoAnn Wypijewski
There is No Peace: an Incitement to Justice
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Few Good Sadists
Jeff Mackler
The Plague of Racist Cop Murders: Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Joshua Frank
In Search of a Lost Socialism
Charles Pierson
Who are the “Wrong Hands” in Yemen?
Andrew Levine
Trump Is Unbeatable in the Race to the Bottom and So Is the GOP
David Schultz
Trump isn’t the Pope and This Ain’t the Middle Ages
Ramzy Baroud
Political Ambiguity or a Doomsday Weapon: Why Abbas Abandoned Oslo
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery
Joseph Natoli
Conditions Close at Hand
N.D. Jayaprakash
No Lessons Learned From Bhopal: the Toxic Chemical Leak at LG Polymers India 
Ron Jacobs
The Odyssey of Elias Demetracopoulos
J.P. Linstroth
Arundhati Roy on Indian Migrant-Worker Oppression and India’s Fateful COVID Crisis
Melvin Goodman
Goodness Gracious, David Ignatius!!
Roger Harris
Blaming the COVID-19 Pandemic on Too Many Humans:  a Critique of Overpopulation Ideology
Sonali Kolhatkar
For America’s Wealthiest, the Pandemic is a Time to Profit
Prabir Purkayastha
U.S. Declares a Vaccine War on the World
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the Telecom Crisis
Paul Buhle
Why Does W.E.B. Du Bois Matter Today?
Mike Bader
The Only Way to Save Grizzlies: Connect Their Habitats
Dave Lindorff
Pandemic Crisis and Recession Can Spark a Fight for Real Change in the US
Nyla Ali Khan
The Sociopolitical and Historical Context That Shaped Kashmiri Women Like My Grandmother in the 1940s
Louis Proyect
Does Neo-Feudalism Define Our Current Epoch?
Ralph Nader
S. David Freeman: Seven Decades of Participating in Power for All of Us
Norman Solomon
Amy Klobuchar, Minneapolis Police and Her VP Quest
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuela in the 2020 Pandemic
Ron Mitchell
Defending Our Public Lands: One Man’s Legacy
Nomi Prins 
The Great Depression, Coronavirus Style: Crashes, Then and Now
Richard C. Gross
About That City on A Hill
Kathleen Wallace
An Oath for Hypocrites
Eve Ottenberg
Common Preservation or Extinction?
Graham Peebles
Air Pollution Mental Illness and Covid-19
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Unearned Income for All
Evan Jones
The Machine Stops
Nicky Reid
Proudhon v. Facebook: A Mutualist Solution to Cyber Tyranny
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What is a “Native” Plant in a Changing World?
Shailly Gupta Barnes
Why are Our Leaders Still Putting Their Faith in the Rich?
John Kendall Hawkins
In Search of the Chosŏn People of Lost Korea
Jill Richardson
Tens of Millions of Are Out of Work, Why on Earth is Trump Trying to Cut Food Aid?
Susan Block
Incel Terrorism
David Yearsley
Plague Music
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail