What if terrorists, cartel members and violent offenders read poetry? What if they learned to lose themselves in the words of Pablo Neruda, Paulo Coelho, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Victor Hugo, Langston Hughes or even a lesser known poet or writer? What if they-like journalists-learned the language of words: the beauty and emotions they evoke? What if they understood that words have the power to change and alter our moods in a far greater way than drugs?
What if instead of being defined as a person who uses violence to evoke terror or force people into submission they wrote in a way that evoked social change?
What if they stopped being defined as a “cartel” member and instead opted to serve as an individual human being described as the individual in Mary Oliver’s The Journey poem?
. . . But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own. . .
Or, what if they related to the words of Octavio Paz?
Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.
What if instead of reigning terror on Mexico-that has cost the lives of more than 60,000 people since 2006- the members in the cartel nurtured their obvious business savviness into a legitimate global business enterprise? What if life in Mexico could be different than what it is today?
Every day journalists are forced to be silent and turn a blind eye to the violence that plagues Mexico. Those who have spoken up count as one of the thousands of people who have been killed or disappeared in Mexico. . . It’s hard to even imagine the Mexico I once knew: the Mexico where I could cross without fear and walk around aimlessly through the streets of Reynosa.
The use of poetry or literature is not to make light of the death of any of these people, but to evoke a question, would a better quality education change the course of Mexico? Would it help to eliminate the daily terror millions of Mexicans live with every single day?