Monday, January 21, 2008

Walking, to make sure the world is right

By Brenda Norrell

As the Longest Walk route across America was announced, an exciting thought comes from the Zapatistas about "exiting the heart to walk the world." The Longest Walk and the words of the Zapatistas are a reminder that our own bodies can provide transportation, our own hands can provide the food we eat, and that the art of walking is a way to put the world in balance.

Rebecca Solnit's article, "Revolution of the Snails: Encounters with the Zapatistas," published in TomDispatch.com , describes the Zapatistas caracoles and the magical art of walking.

"Take, for example, the word caracol, which literally means snail or spiral shell. In August 2003, the Zapatistas renamed their five autonomous communities caracoles ... When they reorganized as caracoles, the Zapatistas reached back to Mayan myth to explain what the symbol meant to them. Or Subcomandante Marcos did, attributing the story as he does with many stories to 'Old Antonio,' who may be a fiction, a composite, or a real source of the indigenous lore of the region:

'The wise ones of olden times say that the hearts of men and women are in the shape of a caracol, and that those who have good in their hearts and thoughts walk from one place to the other, awakening gods and men for them to check that the world remains right. They say that they say that they said that the caracol represents entering into the heart, that this is what the very first ones called knowledge. They say that they say that they said that the caracol also represents exiting from the heart to walk the world…. The caracoles will be like doors to enter into the communities and for the communities to come out; like windows to see us inside and also for us to see outside; like loudspeakers in order to send far and wide our word and also to hear the words from the one who is far away.'"

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