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HISTORICAL MEMORY AND ANCESTRAL CULTURAL IDENTITY

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HISTORICAL MEMORY AND ANCESTRAL CULTURAL IDENTITY
"We have witnessed, and we have listened, being told who we are? The problem with that is that we've come to believe what they tell us. Spanish barbarism depicted us through humiliation; to confirm it, it would suffice to read what was written by Cortés or Díaz del Castillo; the friars, later, depicted us as worshipers of evil forces; devils were the object of our veneration." Rubén Bonifaz Nuño.

At first, when I was 25, I realized that I was not occidental as my parents, teachers, and society had made me believe until that point in my life. I always sensed that the "Ancient Mexico" official history was false. While in Europe I realized I was not "from there", then began my quest to know my true identity. On my return, in Oaxaca (the Anahuac spiritual reserve), I began to realize that there was "another reality", or rather, I began to realize that I lived outside of reality and that, that country and that people with whom I lived for 25 years, were more than Mexico City and the "coyocans". It helped me a lot to begin understanding the ancestral peoples of Oaxaca from a de-colonial perspective. At the time, I was very encouraged by reading Carlos Castaneda. I began to research and study ancestral history and searched for decolonized readings and critical historians.

HISTORICAL MEMORY AND ANCESTRAL CULTURAL IDENTITYYear after year I learned and revalued that other world, denied by my mental and cultural colonization. Readings were supported by experiences and my cultural promotion field work. Fortunately, I found authors like Laurette Séjurné, Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, Rubén Bonifaz Nuño, to name just three of a plethora of decolonized and critical minds, who illuminated my path.

I began to realize that the ancestral cultural heritage had always been before my eyes, tangible and invisible at the same time, my colonized mind made me see it distorted, of little value, only "ruins" for tourists, made them invisible and useless. The most obvious are the so-called archaeological sites, which, like Teotihuacan, Monte Alban and Chichen Itza, were majestic and immeasurable constructions, that no longer conform, to the colonized description that I had of them, at all.

For example, Monte Alban, which was built during over 1350 years in a civilizing effort that far exceeded a person or the lineage that created it; but was the product of a systematic and shared effort by many generations and many peoples who became involved in a massive work and which, was not made and used as a city, a palace, a ceremonial center or a fortress.

Without metals such as steel, bronze or iron, huge quantities of land were moved. Terraces were made on different levels, millions of tons of stone were brought from distant places, were cut and assembled into buildings that break away from every world purpose of practical material use.

The architectural floor plan of the first phase in the year 500 BC, is exactly the same as when it was abandoned in the year 850 of the era. This means that where the construction was, in that same place they built another new building over the previous, but larger. This implies that, what they designed from the beginning, it worked exactly the same way for 1350 years. A marvel, the City of Oaxaca is less than 500 years old and no longer serves for what they planned it.

What was the constructive goal? What was "it" that could remain used and unchanged for hundreds of years, and that did not go out of fashion or was not substantially modified? Why was it so important and lasted so long? What was "that primal idea" that was shared for so many generations and remained unchanged in its most elementary essence?

What were that knowledge, values and principles that drove many generations to maintain for so many continual centuries such a massive effort, without, apparently, any practical objective of immediate and utilitarian material life?

We must understand that, for some reason, unknown today or possibly hidden, all the ancient world civilizations of the planet, all of them, built what generically we call today "pyramids". Indeed, Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Tawantinsuyo and The Anahuac, all built pyramids.

It is unsustainable and insulting to continue believing the invaders discourse of yesterday and today, that these were "ceremonial centers" to make human sacrifices or worship nature phenomena. All ancestral cultures made these buildings without previous accord. It is the Cem Anahuac, the civilization that built the largest number of these buildings and architectural complexes. This is very important and significant, and it should not go unnoticed. It's the tip of the iceberg.

Because it reveals that our ancestors were people who possessed a high culture, with values and principles so high that they allowed them to live in harmony for more than a thousand years, long enough to be able to build such a magnificent architectural work. Entire towns who worked hard over matter to enhance the human spirit. To achieve these magnificent works they required, logically, to provide all people with excellent nourishment, an effective health system, an amazing educational system, and they had an effective organization system to build these monumental works over generations.
Their attention, passion and commitment to the research of celestial mechanics and nature over many centuries of research, observation, reasoning, analysis, systematization and knowledge transmission, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. This is why they invented corn, milpa, potato and at least 42 products that today are part of humanity's diet such as chocolate, vanilla, edible nopal, amaranth, potato, tomato, etc. But in the field of science they invented the mathematical zero before the Egyptians, the first calculator on the planet called Nepohualtzinzin and its similar in the Andes called Quipu. Construction engineering and hydraulics reached equal or higher levels of what is now available, which resulted in hundreds of kilometers of canals, dams and aqueducts, with intelligent water management, both in the Central Highlands of Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula or throughout the Andes Mountains. Because it must be recognized that science for our ancestors was of biophilic nature. They never researched for war, weapons, mass production, mass consumption of superfluous products to generate material wealth.

Our ancestors for millennia, lived without private property, without the use of money, all trade was done through barter and therefore, without consumerism, so they all lived austere and frugally, with spirituality and without religions, with a participatory democracy governments, where authority governed by obeying, where family was the center of life and the calpulli the force and the communal school. Where all children were obligated to go to school, where there was no consumerism and individualism and instead there was free community work for the common good or tequio. Throughout the classical period (200 B.C. to 850 A.D.) it was not a militaristic, hegemonic and warrior period. Had these biophilic cultural elements not been available to live, it would not have been possible to build the largest number of pyramids in the world.

And it is precisely because of this way of personal, family and community living for many centuries that these great civilizational achievements could be achieved, had their energy, intelligence and work, had been focused on war, commerce and invading their neighbors: First, these achievements could not have been possible, and, secondly, there would be the vestiges of this primitive and brutal way of life , such as the middle ages in Europe or the Roman Empire, with castles, watchtowers, moats, turrets, weapons and armor.

Our ancestral heritage, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego including the Caribbean Islands, which were the ancient communication bridge between Tawantinsuyo and Anahuac, left to their direct and indirect descendants five cultural elements that identify and unite all the peoples of the Abayanáhuac continent. First, the values and principles of family, our love for Tonantzin or Pachamama, our tireless builder spirit, life in communality, our permanent hospitality and fraternity, and our deep and ingrained spirituality. Cultural elements that are intrinsic to all people on the continent, from North to South, from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, whether in the mountains as in the coasts, plains or valleys. This cultural philosophical matrix is what provides all peoples and cultures, one face and one heart.

And all this reflection, is to meditate about the image that for five centuries has been presented of our venerable ancestors and their great civilizational project, perhaps the most important in terms of achievements in quality of life for all the inhabitants of the peoples and cultures that integrated this cultural universe. An image that begins distortedly with the texts of Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortés, in which these murderers and thieves, intoxicated by the theft of other people's wealth and bewitched with so much blood spilled by their hands, misrepresented the invasion facts, to proclaim themselves civilizing heroes and apostles of their religion.

They described our grandparents ill-intentioned and with enormous ignorance. First, they said they weren't human beings. After, that we were primitive, savage, cannibal and we lived in permanent wars, torturing, enslaving and stealing from each other. From 1492 to the present day, in all kinds of illustrations and films, we are portrayed as frightened, naked, primitive and fearful human beings. Extremely ignorant and unable to comprehend the alleged development of these Middle Ages filibusters and ten centuries of European obscurantism.

Thus, in almost all the writings and illustrations, of yesterday and today, they depict our ancestors as fierce cannibal warriors which they had to dominate, or as ignorant and fearful, to whom the church must protect and integrate, that is, Europeanize them as slaves. Understanding this, as making Castilians and making disappear their millennial languages, eradicate their primitive and idolatrous spiritual expressions and evangelize them to make them Christians with the true god.

The ideological construction that has made mental, cultural and spiritual colonization is that, "in the new world", there was only one violent and primitive state, which had to be "saved" with the sword and the cross through Western Civilization. That this action has been for "humanity", -meaning Europe,- a heroic, civilizing and humanitarian event, in which, unfortunately, had a small human cost, but which, although it was "painful", was fair and necessary.

Octavio Paz, the great intellectual of Mexican Creole thought, gives us his opinion on this, in his book, "Vislumbres de la India", published in 1995. Says:
"The Clash between the Spanish and the Mesoamericans was a violent encounter between civilizations that was resolved by the defeat of the magical mindset and ritualistic culture. The Mesoamericans scientific, philosophical, technical and political inferiority does not entirely explain the conquest."

This is the vision of the Euro-Mexicans cultured elites, who have never been interested in learning the Anahuac history and culture in depth and with non-colonial honesty. This vision is in the national education system, in normal, in textbooks, in high schools, universities and in national multimedia. That's how they want the people to think of themselves, their origins, and their ancestors. To support this statement, I again quote Octavian Paz in the same text:
"Not all was terrible: on the pre-Columbian world ruins, the Spaniards and the Portuguese built a grandiose historical construction that, in its great strokes, is still standing. They united many peoples who spoke different languages, worshipped different gods, fought among themselves, or did not know one another. They were united through laws and legal and political institutions, but above all by language, culture and religion. If the losses were huge, the gains have also been huge.

To judge fairly the work of the Spaniards in Mexico, it must be emphasized that without them ?I mean: without the Catholic religion and culture they established in our country? we would not be who we are. We would probably be a group of peoples divided by different beliefs, languages and cultures.
The problem is not that colonized Euro-Mexicans elites think this way. The real problem is that they have made people in general think the same way they do. That they see the Anahuac civilization as backward and primitive, and the invasion as a civilizing act that benefited peoples by subjecting them to a dreaded holocaust and an atrocious epistemic destruction. It makes people feel rejection and shame for the ancestral past, as presented to them by the dominant culture as their shameful heritage. Not only in the mestizo urban centers, but unfortunately, this phenomenon also occurs in the peasant and Anahuaca communities, especially through the educational system and television.

The euro-centered colonizing vision is that, Europe is the center of human history and culture, that other peoples and continents never reached the achievements and advances of Western culture. This colonizing dogma, which has marked the educated elites of countries subject to European colonization, allows, justifies and encourages the destruction and devaluation of the ancestral cultures of the peoples of the planet. When an invaded-colonized thinks the same as his invader-colonizer, the colonization lock closes. He can never be freed because potentially, he will always be another colonizer of himself and of his people. Because, you can't get out of the "colonization dungeon," with the jailer's ideas.

The "most illustrious of the Euro-Mexican masters", the creator of the Secretary of Public Education, who brought Eurocentric education to the peasants and anahuacas, Mr. José Vasconcelos, wrote this idea in the foreword to his novel "El Ulises Criollo".
"Indeed, the decline of the Asian peoples is attributable to their isolation, but also, and certainly, in the first place, to the fact that they have not been Christianized. A religion like Christianity advanced the American Indians, in a few centuries, from cannibalism to relative civilization."

As can be seen in the writing of two "great pillars" of Mexican Eurocentric Creole culture, the ignorance and contempt for the ancient and important Civilization of Anahuac, as old and important as that of China or India, is an institution and a subjugation weapon for the people, which mostly are the direct and indirect heirs of this wonderful cultural wealth, which not only represents the greatest heritage inherited from the past, but, this wisdom holds our ancestors life experience and wisdom of thousands of years, which can propel us to break the chains of material, intellectual, emotional and spiritual slavery, to which we have been subjected by these five centuries of occupation, genocide and epistemic destruction.
We cannot continue to perceive our historical past and our ancestors, as described by the invaders and colonizers at their convenience, and researchers and historians continue to do, as intellectual slave workers of the neocolonial system.

As Dr. Guillermo Bonfil Batalla used to say, we need to "rethink culture", to see ourselves through the "Smoking Mirror" and discover our true face and our firm heart, as the root of a tree. The official SEP, INAH and Westernized universities needs to be definitively, outright and categorically discarded. Following the path that Dr. Rubén Bonfiaz Nuño began in the last stage of his life, by founding the "Seminar of Studies for the Decolonization of Mexico", only such a brilliant and decolonized mind could glimpse through Eurocentric cultural pollution, the philosophical grandeur of our ancient Grandparents and enter the Toltecayotl.

We have to modify the conquered-conquering and colonized-colonizers mental dynamics, uselessly imposed upon us during these five centuries, unsuccessfully trying to be Spaniards for three centuries; then for a century grotesquely trying to be French; and the last century, awkwardly trying to be Americans. Because the Spaniards, the French and the Americans have invaded, exploited and despised us. Because they are and have been the economically powerful classes, which have favored the invasion, that execute through their employees, politicians and officials in turn, those who implement the ancestral historical and cultural lobotomy of the Anahuac peoples. Administration after administration, with methodical and systematic policies and through public education, the media and churches, they intend to make people believe that the Anahuac Civilization no longer exists, that it was defeated and extinguished because it was primitive, bellicose and idolatry. That we must eradicate any of its vestiges in modern Mexicans. That the ancestral past is limited to the Prehispanic History, where the Mexica or wrongly called Aztecs occupied the most important moment of that past that now only serves as a tourist attraction. That the Mexica?s, in less than two centuries created the ancient Toltec wisdom and even created the Nahuatl language. Actually, they arrived at the Central Highlands as nomads and hunters, wearing furs, could not speak Nahuatl, didn?t sow the milpa and didn?t weave cotton. The Creole ideology neocolonial state prehispanic history, aims to maintain the people in ingenuous ignorance of their greatest ancestral legacy, represented by thousands of years of wisdom and life experience, known as Toltecayotl.
Finally we believe it is incoherent that material vestiges, such as the hundreds of archaeological sites, the multiple and various works of art that populate many of the best museums in the world, and above all, the products of their wisdom and science, such as maize, potato, milpa, chinampas, chocolate, vanilla, amaranth, the measure of time, among many others are belittled by the official discourse; which is based on the writings of invading criminals and religious fanatics, in which texts our glorious and wise ancestors are reviled, distorted and denigrated, to justify the invasion, the holocaust and epistemic destruction.
Enough, stop the colonizing dogmas, which have become "the historical truth", with which the people lose their self-esteem, conscience and dignity, becoming weak and powerless, fit to stand any injustice and abuse, but, above all, loses the possibility of freeing themselves from mental and cultural slavery.
Therefore, the first emerging and urgent task is the decolonized recovery of historical memory and ancestral cultural identity. Without it, we will not have the foundations and structural strength to dismantle colonization and oppression, ours and others.
The difficult part is not doing it, but imagining it.
Quarantine April, Oaxaca, 2020.

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