Dangerous Memories in Time of Cultural Amnesia
In the context of a globalized and postmodern world, there is a vector of thought in Mexican culture that remains fixated on the present, invested in the urgency of the moment, and content with hurried decisions in political and economic matters. Such a mindset makes little room for memories and, in fact, promotes rapid forgetfulness, especially of uncomfortable memories. Nevertheless, another vector of thought simultaneously persists, one that prizes memories, emphasizes traditions and ancestral anamnetic forms, and is quite richly expressed in small `campesinos' and indigenous communities, where men and particularly women - though otherwise lacking political influence - are actively engaged in preserving their memories. Not surprisingly, these two vectors of thought share an uneasy co-existence. In these pages I will argue that these memories are actually considered dangerous on two fronts: first, because they interrupt our productive present and the system we live in; and, second because they challenge us to imagine, and even to work toward, a more just future, one not characterized by easy amnesties or corporate forgetfulness. I will support the view that memories enable us to conduct an honest reconstruction and analysis of the past, in all of its complexity, and then oblige us to integrate lessons learned truthfully in the present. In Mexico, such memories need to be listened to and integrated as part of our identity as a society and a Church for, if we do not, we will always remain a broken society and an incomplete Church. This position, along with the questions that it raises, will be confronted and illuminated herein by a theological perspective on memory. After all, it was Israel's belief in being in the memory of God that gave that people their solid communitarian consistency. Later on, the Christian community inherited this anamnetic culture as the core of its liturgical life and Christian praxis: "Do this in memory of me". Johann Baptist Metz reflects theologically on the "cultural amnesia" that drags us towards a dehumanizing progress, emphasizing merely technological advancement. Societal adoption of such an attitude inevitably leaves victims in its wake, namely, those who do not - or cannot - achieve the standards of success established by the technocrats. Metz identifies the destruction of memory as a typical tool of totalitarian domination. The slavery of human beings begins when their memories are taken away; this is the principle and foundation of all colonization. Metz explains that we must remember the memories of these victims in order to interrupt our present situation and activate creative resistance. He suggests a mysticism characterized by suffering unto God while, at the same time, keeping our eyes open to reality. Consequently a praxis is realized wherein we act as subjects in freedom participating actively in the construction of history. It is important for the Mexican Church to recover these memories at both the social and ecclesial levels and to allow them to interrupt us, because they constitute a new way for us to look back at what we have been, and to construct what we want to be. In doing so, we can be a community of memory and hope.