The Milagro Beanfield War, by John Treadwell Nichols, is a funny, heartbreaking, entertaining story about how one man inspired his community to rise against those who has stolen, oppressed and abused them – legally, of course – for decades.
Joe Mondragon is my hero! A down on his luck jack-of-all-trades who is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors, feed his family and survive this life with all parts in tact. For most of his life, Joe has been pissed off – a rebel without a clue – always acting out, raising hell and punching the wrong people in the face. The rage that Jos felt in his gut was felt by all of the people in his community – a low-level, burning sensation that they were getting screwed – royally – but unable to identify by who, when, where, why or how. Sound familiar?
Things seems like they are going off the rails and most of us are holding on with white knuckles, praying to God that we survive the dive over the cliff. We know things are screwed up but we really don’t know whom to blame. This is where is get tricky. The corporate media culture in which we are immersed feeds us many possible “bad guys” – Republicans, Democrats, Terrorists, Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda – all of whom are not the source of our trouble. Remember, the corporate monstrosity that owns your very life profits from the status quo – it is highly unlikely that they would provide you with any information that would be of any benefit in creating real change.
Real change will occur outside of the established methods of action. I don’t know what that is or what it looks like, but I do know that voting in our latest election is not a step toward change, as Emma Goldman wisely stated:
If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.
Politics is merely show business for ugly people. It is a farce, designed to keep us busily arguing with each other while the machine churns. What’s interesting in politics is that the two sides never tell us about what they agree on – which is far more than they disagree. We argue about the same issues of difference, while they work hand in hand to consolidate our entire economy into a monolithic, global money machine that burns people for its fuel.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken
So if you are hoping that the answer will arrive in November, please think again. This is the nature of EVERY election – angry voters tired of the ineffectiveness of Government turn out their elected officials – the “clean house” and “throw the bums out” – only to get more of the same and do it all over again in the next election. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again expecting a different result.
Politics is not the answer! Sadly, I believe, as Gertrude Stein so aptly put it:
There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.
The political process, in its current form, is not designed to serve you. It exists to serve Capital and those who have the Capital – the lobbyists, big donors, think tanks and foundations – they have the money and money makes Washington (and every other capital city tick). You have no money and you NO skin in the game. Sorry!
This was the exact scenario in Milagro, a city (and County) composed of poor, Latino farmers and laborers, who had, over the course of 100 years had all of their rights to their land and its resources slowly stolen from them (legally) through taxes, eminent domain seizure, re-zoning, and usage laws. All of these things were tossed in as part of complex legislation that the people had no way of understanding or fighting. Why did this happen?
Because there was money to be made, and these foolish natives did not have the “wisdom” to develop these resources – they were using them to live rather than profit. This continues today – all over the world – as the IMF, World Bank and their assorted minions reach their tentacles into ever crevice of the globe – offering “economic development” and “progress.” This usually profits a few and leave the rest in a mountain of debt and entirely removed from their traditionally means of living.
We know things are wrong, but we do not understand them so we block it out, turn on Monday Night Football and try to forget about it. The “Achilles Pocket Book” then goes into effect – we do not worry about how badly others are getting shafted as long as we continue to do well – we don’t notice the pain of others until we join them in the boat. This needs to change. Your indifference (and mine) allow the misery and suffering of millions. Until we wake up and speak up, collectively, nothing changes – even if you vote
The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.
What made The Milagro Beanfield War so inspirational is the change that occurred in the community. For so many years, the poor and disenfranchised of this community fought with each other – all of their undefined rage and hostility was used to hurt their neighbors – fellow sufferers, rather than being channeled at the source.
Then Joe Mondragon irrigated his beanfield. His instinct told him that the law prohibiting him from water his crops and growing food for his family was wrong – no matter how many times it was politely explained to him by the “enforcers.”
For hundreds of years his family had provided for their own needs, now he was dependent on “them” to give him work, making it illegal to provide for himself. This single acting brought the community together, they suddenly realized who the real enemy was, and banded together in defense of this little beanfield and everything it represented. And they won!
As long as we sit on our couches, watching CNN and complaining, there will be no change. They actually want you to stay home and watch CNN; it is commercial television and creates great revenues for the man – and keep us isolated in our velvet cages. Weak. Ineffective. Impotent.
A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.
But, what if we turned off the TV? Stopped listening to “answers” from the source of our troubles and began to talk to one another (and listen)? What if we started reading books again (Gasp!) – history, literature, memoirs – not for distracted but for edification? What if we started to learn about what is really going on and taking steps toward real change? I think “they” would have kittens and would work overtime to convince us how wrong we are – to just, please, come back to the TV and Cheetoes and forget about the man behind the curtain.
Let us form one body, one heart, and defend to the last warrior our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers.
Joe Mondragon’s instincts were correct. The trick is in having the courage to listen and follow. The waves of doubt will crash upon you and the minions of doom and gloom will squawk relentlessly, hoping to shut you down before you even begin. Trust your gut!
Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.