I write from the sky between Mexico City and Guatemala City. I write as Eastern Congo is being occupied and overtaken by M23 militias and the world – well a very small section of it – passively watches. I write as my sisters in Goma flee and others tend the wounded with bare resources, as thousands are displaced with nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat and danger and terror in every direction. I write as my sister Christine Schuler Deschryver, who directs City of Joy, spends another sleepless night worrying whether M23 troops will be descending on Bukavu, experiencing anxiety, chaos and escalating violence around her. I write as she bravely stays to protect the women at City of Joy and attempts to give them hope when she herself is totally in the dark. I write as we wait and wait and wait, as we have year after year for the Security Council, the Secretary General, the 19 thousand UN peacekeepers to protect the people. As we wait for the power players behind the scenes – the U.S. and Great Britain and France – to put pressure on Rwanda (who they greatly support) and Uganda to withdraw the M23 and stop supporting armies lead by war criminals.
I write after days of reading devastating blogs, stories and emails arriving from women on the ground in Palestine and Israel and Syria. Women who have been fighting for peace and an end to occupation and violence. Women who report the terror of bombs landing around them and the tremors and explosions and loss of limbs and lives and hope. Women who are burying the small bodies of children and who report feeling manipulated and controlled by politicians who do not see them, who use them merely as pawns in their game of power and rage.
I write after the storm Sandy flooded New York and New Jersey – 23 US states in total – and the Caribbean, from Haiti to Jamaica to Cuba. I write in its aftermath, leaving neighborhoods and houses and lives destroyed. I write as drought and fires and extreme and unusual temperatures rage across the planet. I write as fossil fuel companies continue their drilling and plundering knowing that if this excavating of oil does not stop, it will soon be too late.
I write after women survivors of Mexico talk about rape and domestic violence and human trafficking and being sold for less than a bicycle. I write after holding an 18-year-old Mexican girl in my arms who was recently freed from a pimp who had kidnapped her for years and forced her to be raped, sometimes 60 times a day. I write knowing that sex trafficking is becoming one of the leading industries of the world and each day poor women’s bodies become more objectified and violated in the so-called free market.
The future seems bleak. This is the 2012 the fortune tellers have been predicting.
But I have also have spent my last days in a theater where miraculous young women are performing Emotional Creature with their full hearts and talents and where other young women are discovering they have meaning and value and can make an impact. I have spent my days reading the plans of activists in 177 countries who are joined with One Billion Rising, organizing festivals, holding workshops writing new laws and enforcing old ones, holding perpetrators accountable and planning where and who and what they will dance to, linking our issues so that we come to see the intersection of violence against women and racism, climate change, poverty, war, homophobia. I write with the energy of the billion infused in me, as I begin to circle the planet inviting women and men to rise for a future where we honor and cherish and protect our mother earth and the bodies and souls of our mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers and wives. Where we protect the people and insist on diplomatic and fair solutions rather than dropping drones and bombs and rockets. I write because in spite of every sign indicating we could be doomed I feel the heartbeat of women pressed against my chest, I feel their hunger to live and to create a world where their children live in peace and prosperity. I write because I know the time of rape and male domination can and will come to an end and the energy of hoarding and pillaging and hurting will be transformed into sharing and including and feeling the heart inside each heart.
There is a wonderful Nicaraguan expression that says “Struggle is the highest form of song.” Struggle gives life meaning and it keeps one in a state of perpetual love. We all know what is possible in both directions. I am opting for life. I am opting for the many having the resources and respecting the resources. I know we can turn this around, there is still time. I know we can rise out of this cage, this tyranny of domination and hierarchy and exclusion. I know we can through the movement of our bodies and our collective envisioning push past the perpetrators, the war criminals, the rapists, the exploiters of the earth and women. I can feel this energy. It is in the billion and more who will rise and dance on 14 February 2013.
– Eve Ensler