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Toward Liberation Through Connection

The following is a transcript of an RC class in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, led by Xabi Odriozola, who is from the Basque Country. Xabi is the International Commonality Reference Person for Languages and Interpreting.

Someone in the class interpreted into Yiddish, and Xabi interpreted into Basque for the three other Basque people. Someone else spoke Hebrew. So four languages (including English) were spoken all through the class.

The class was transcribed and edited by Nancy Wygant, the Information Coordinator for People Thinking About United States Identity.

Xabi: It’s good to see you. I think all of you have some idea of what connection is. All of us, before we came out from our moms, were inside and experienced connection there. We’ve also experienced other kinds of connection—for example, with nature, energy, God, plants, birds, a dog, a good friend, poetry, good music, a wonderful book, a good idea.

The more connected we are, the less we accept oppression and the harder it is for us to be manipulated into oppressing others.

DISCONNECTION

The whole process of being socialized in a capitalist system is about disconnection. It begins early in our life, in ways we can hardly remember.

The system tries to disconnect us so that we become only consumers and producers. When we are connected with ourselves or with something else, we don’t consume so much.

We are not so interesting to the system if we are connected. The only way we are interesting to it is if we produce something for it. The system wants our money and our labor. If we can give it some money, then we can have a few little rights.

How can the system cause us—intelligent, connected human beings—to disconnect? There are a lot of ways, most of which we are not aware of because they are like our “first skin.”

The first time the system forced us to disconnect, we couldn’t discharge about it. As a result, disconnection became part of our reality; we assumed that it was what was waiting for us in life. We were experiencing a lot of hurts at the same time—the oppression of young people, sexism, racism, classism, poverty, and so on. We were piling up experiences of disconnection, one after another, without discharging, and every piece of disconnection formed our new disconnected reality.

Our brains have been colonized by the system. It has put a big lie in our brains, and we have believed it. We have been trained to reproduce the system ourselves when the system restimulates us—something that happens often.

We can become so disconnected that connection becomes a difficult issue. We create excuses in our minds to disconnect from other people and end up believing that those excuses are right and fine. In RC we call those excuses “distress.” (laughter) We become so hurt that we often prefer to live with our distresses rather than live a connected life. It feels more comfortable. Why is it more comfortable? Because we became accustomed to it when we were children and accepted disconnection as the way life should be. We couldn’t do something different without getting accurate information and discharging. As a result, our life stories are stories of trying to reconnect with who we were before becoming disconnected.

We try to find ways to reconnect. We are actually good at that. If we have even one memory of being connected, we never give up on trying to find connection again.

As a Native person, I have been discharging about my colonized brain, the part of my brain that was colonized by capitalism. I’ve realized that when we try to be connected, the system labels us as not “normal”—because “normal” is being disconnected. So, for example, if I show my aliveness, my joy, my happiness, on the streets—if I sing and dance—what will happen? (makes a siren noise—people laugh) “Crazy”! There is the “mental health” system waiting for me.

One way to get us disconnected is by taking us a long way away from the people and culture and land we belong to. If you know it is your land and you feel connected with it, then you remember the people who live on it. If you remember who your people are, you feel connected with them and then you don’t let anyone hurt your people. You know you belong to that land and to those people.

Your culture, relationships, and language keep you connected. The first thing the capitalist system steals from you is your memory of whom you belong to and where you belong. Because we kept our language with us, we Basque people were able to survive genocide. We knew who we were, where we were, and who our people were.

This is why we need people’s languages here at this workshop. Interpreting into their own languages helps people be fully who they are.

You USers were badly hurt, right here. You were made to forget where you came from—your ancestors, your languages—as part of surviving in and accepting an oppressive structure built on genocide.

Let’s have a mini-session about excuses. What excuses do you use to disconnect? Do you prioritize comfort over a connected life? Do you talk fast, talk high, talk loud, not talk? Do you think that because you belong to the USA you are superior, or inferior? A few light pieces to work on. (laughter)

RECONNECTION

A—: Can you talk about what happens when a people doesn’t have a land, when there is no place it could go back to?

Xabi: Mother Earth is happy to have you anywhere on this planet. She is waiting calmly for you to make your way back home. You can decide which land is yours, and nobody can deny it to you. I think Mother Earth is happy if you decide that your land is sixteen countries, or only one, or three—whatever you need.

You need to work on decolonizing that part of your brain that says that you don’t have any background, or your home and your people disappeared too long ago, or it is impossible to find them. Life has given you a special gift—a mind that is ready to get back for you everything you need in order to accomplish your full re-emergence.

M—: My heritage goes so far back—hundreds of years—that I don’t even know all the places my ancestors came from or anything about them. And there’s not just one kind of ancestry; there is English, Irish, German, and others.

Xabi: First you should be proud of your current identity, the identity and language you grew up with, and discharge about it. When you are happy with that, go one step earlier. Maybe after English, behind English, is some other language waiting for you. You can take pride in that second language and discharge on that. Your memory will open, will go on opening wider and wider, and clarity will come to you. You will probably find different languages, different cultures, as you go back through your lineages. And although I think that’s a useful way to work, I don’t think it’s the most important thing. What is most important is deciding that you are going to reconnect with who you really are.

APPRECIATIONS

The following are two of the appreciations for the class:

  • Your commitment to using simultaneous translation meant that the class moved at a much slower pace than usual. It made a big difference in my ability to connect with the people in the room and to the theory you presented. Your perspectives on what it means to be human and to live in opposition to capitalism had a huge impact on me. Since the class, I feel supported and affirmed in my choices to move toward connection with others, the natural world, and myself by remembering your words and warm presence.
  • Something that has stayed with me and influenced my daily decisions is your reminder about the relationship between disconnection and consumption. When we feel connected, we are not interested in consuming more than we need. Capitalism is interested in keeping us disconnected and busy producing and consuming. We don’t get to be our full selves under capitalism. Connected people are a threat to the system.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00