Saturday, November 09, 2013

Mensahi Ginnen i Gehilo' #8: Dos na Haligi

It is unfortunate that the formal movement for decolonization has stalled in recent years. At the formal level there is little to do and little to work towards. Informally the work continues. Independence for Guam is a notion that has been around for centuries, but it has taken different forms and been articulated in different ways. It is at some points been something direct and strong, at other times more a feeling of autonomy than political sovereignty. Independence in the modern era is a political status option for Guam that brings out alot of passion amongst people, but also fears. It is something which people speak about but often times through a bitterness that makes it seem unattractive or that supporting independence would mean living in the past.

Here is my take on independence for Guam. The movement here is small, but passionate.

The way I see it, the movement should be built around two basic principles.
#1 Chamorros were once an independent people, who sustained themselves and guided their own destiny. #2: Chamorros have the ability today to be independent again, and determine what happens in their lands for themselves. Centuries of colonization have obscured this fact, but those who believe in an independent Guam take these two principles to heart

Many who support independence do so out of a sense of righting historical wrongs. They are driven towards independence as the remedy for fixing centuries of mistreatment and discrimination. They remember wrongs that were committed in the past and more easily connect them to the injustices of the present.

This type of historical memory is important, since it can help build your argument by fanning the flames of colonial displeasure that many people feel in large and small ways. No one truly likes living in a colony, even if they convince themselves they have to remain in that position, they cannot truly accept it. Remembering those past wrongs can be helpful in pushing more people to tear down the fantasy of the colonial present, that helps them pretend that nothing needs to be changed or that everything is as good as it can be.

But you cannot build an independence movement based on these types of negative feelings alone. You cannot make a strong argument for independence by only reminding people of the sins committed against you.

Independence requires imagination and vision. You must inspire people to believe in themselves. Colonialism is a process that takes so much away from a people. High on the list of things it takes is the feeling of pride and self-confidence. Colonization creates the idea that the colonized cannot do anything for themselves and can never survive without their colonizer. In order to overcome these lies, you have to not only remind yourself of how you have been mistreated, but how you can do better. How you can be trusted and you should be trusted with your own destiny.

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