Estefanía Gómez Vásquez's declaration
How does one speak of adopting a political stance in a heartbreaking context, which is consumed by violence and based on the elimination of the other in order to guarantee one’s own survival? How does one address the war driven economy and injustice? How does one criticize a government and media which sells us peace through war. How can I make a distinction between myself and those who are indifferent towards the Columbian conflict and the sadly human desire to find pleasure in a power which involves prejudice, poverty, resignation and fear of others? How do I define myself as a conscientious objector, and expand a debate within a country and its dominating ideologies, without recognizing that the history and ideology are intrinsically part of my own background? How do I do all this without first recognizing that I have more personal reasons, rather than just political, social and economic ones, for deciding to go against this system and not conform, so as to speak out and feel the need to propose and develop alternatives for those who, like me, believe that things can be different. That we do not need to count on war and that our bodies are not merely machines of death.
Describing my situation may be simpler than I thought. It is simply about wanting to see and feel different things, to be part of this different reality and believe that, with every day that passes, the criticism made will never work unless a proposal for change is made. The discussions need to satisfy people’s expectations. It is the often the case that we do not carry through all that has been said and this is what I want to change. Actions speak louder than words and so we should work silently but constructively. I wish for my actions to not need words in order to be considered as part of the debate.
And so my conscientious objection is not about limiting myself to merely being against the system, neither am I simply against a war which goes completely beyond my actions and my very being. I simply do not want to be part of those whose work involves following the ravages caused by the war, picking up the remaining pieces and without achieving much, trying to make it sustainable, thereby paving the way for the same thing to happen again. I would like to have a moral job in this world. Therefore I reject, more than the war, indifference and desperation and those who merely stand by and do nothing or those who are happy to talk without actually doing anything. I choose to critically aware and constantly striving for change.
Being a conscientious objector means inscribing a different history on my body. It means showing, through each of my movements, how war is not the way through which I wish to relate to others. It shows that competition does not feed my desire for power. Power is precisely about leaving open questions, about opening new paths, serving as an example, thus showing others that they can believe and know that it is possible to go beyond the complaints and indifference and belief that this is the way things will always be. I am showing that I, and others, can disobey a certain context in order to follow their personal conviction.
This declaration is made in a moment of urgency, so as to say that I do not intend to give in. My body and mind will resist the barrage of opinions which, as a whole, tries to buy me, impose itself upon me and justify itself to me. This space is mine and I have the duty and right to this space, which I consider irreparable and imminent…believing in myself and other people who think beyond themselves as individuals, believing in those who share the same challenge as I am facing. I want to show that it is easier to ignore something when you are an invisible victim of a board game for those who make us believe that we are playing in favour of life and justice, because I am playing for myself, for what I believe in and what I feel; because being invisible is not a consolation and much less a privilege. I am here for those who wish to listen to me and who stop and think for a second about how many things in their life have been based on decisions made by them for them. For me, my conscientious objection is an example of one such occasion.
Estefanía Gómez Vásquez