Walking and listening attentively, like a fallible pilgrim seeking to correct errors in faith, makes discovery possible. For example, it turns out that forgiveness is overrated in official culture and even by the authorities. The judges of the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP), surprised by the resistance of the residents of a city in Bogota notoriously affected by war, proclaimed Sumapaz as an act of faith. By expecting victims' forgiveness of their perpetrators as the first step of restorative justice, they asked people to take on additional ethical and emotional burdens rather than alleviate their suffering by expressing their displeasure. Releasing inhumane abusers is humanly impossible, and demanding it worsens the harm rather than mitigating it. However, the farmers of Sumapaz make it clear that this unacceptable step of apology does not prevent them from working together. The difference illuminated the path of the JEP. They listened carefully and allowed themselves to be guided.
How does the desire to work with people who don't know each other arise? Well, by walking with other pilgrims and relying on the knowledge and hospitality of unknown residents in areas that were previously unattractive or difficult to access. The path is more than a space, it is an activity, a verb before a noun. Denotes movement instead of goal. For example, you do the Way of St. James. The pilgrimage is valued not so much for its planned and predictable destination, but for the discoveries made along the way. To be a wanderer means to embark on a spiritual adventure, to enter a “dark night of the soul,” according to St. John of the Cross, and to do a somersault through a world invisible and uncertain because of sin. Embarrassed and perplexed, the pilgrim spends many days on his long and eventful journey tired and sore before dispelling his doubts and enjoying enlightenment. Walking means persistence, practice, and resuming the healing adventure day after day.
Inspired by the pilgrims who have been walking the Camino de Santiago for centuries to reach a spiritual goal, we propose to do the Caminos de Paz. It will be a practice and a gradual process that will lay the foundation for sustainable peace. Both in Colombia and in other countries affected by so much war and misery, peace has been misinterpreted as a goal, objective and purpose, when it should be redefined as a continuous and vital activity. The task does not end with agreements or with conventional reparations – monetary ones that will never be enough, legal ones that depend on implementation that sometimes remains hesitant and even unfulfilled, or symbolic ones that are rarely effective when it comes to the erection of monuments and monuments the establishment goes plaques. . These traditional measures will be necessary, but they are not enough: bandages that cover the wound that does not heal. Sometimes they serve to avoid looking at those who have been beaten, so as not to hurt the eyes of their happier fellow citizens who consider the question of peace to be settled. Achieving lasting peace means changing the vision, no longer being used to seeing areas forbidden by force, and developing the will to cooperate and contribute.
The JEP's turnaround came in 2021, during the fifth and final session of Pre-Textos this year, an interpretation through creation program attended by both judges and farmers. In the first session we worked on an essay about transitional justice and everyone asked questions about the text. The legal doctors heard good questions from the farmers; and the farmers realized that the doctors also had doubts. Through creative activities, a horizontal complicity developed until the inspiration arose to pursue paths of peace, to continue talking, to get to know each other and to work together. We understood that peace comes when we walk, that the path is a verb and comes by walking. Peace is not created all at once through laws and sanctions, but is earned daily as nourishment is gained through food. They are vital and precarious activities, renewable and potentially long-lasting if they do not end.
Caminos de Paz is also a response to the rise of tourism in Colombia. (Mikhail Bakhtin astutely noted that every speech act is a reaction.) The entrepreneurs of new tourism ventures are often former combatants who had closed the roads for years. Attracting curious tourists, perhaps even morbid, deserves a pilgrimage alternative that is more ethical and interesting in the long term: the Ways of Peace. It is a call to get to know the areas and people, to fall in love with the country and to take responsibility for its people. It's about strengthening bonds rather than snooping. It is a repeated and passed down practice of hikers who embark on the adventure of discovering previously unknown areas. The pilgrims rely on residents who may be unwilling to forgive but are willing to cooperate.
The Caminos will likely begin JEP’s “Restoring Us” program. It allows those who appear to reduce their obligations through the work of clearing land and planting trees, initially in Usme and Ciudad Bolívar. The addition of the Peace Trails – in which teachers trained in Pre-Texts participate to facilitate interpretation sessions with their students, area residents and those in attendance committed to improving the environment – will create lasting collaborations. The National Library takes note of this and is preparing to accompany it. Thanks to the leadership of EAFIT University, you may take the first steps of the Caminos Antioquia. You will travel both the Medellín metropolitan area and the more remote areas of the department.
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Under the spiritual leadership of the outstanding leaders of civic culture, Antanas Mockus from Bogotá and Sergio Fajardo from Medellín, we will be an example of knowing the territory and loving it as active citizens. The first step is to go out and listen to problems and suggestions. The second is to provide resources and services, whether to help build schools, clinics or cultural centers or to develop new work and educational practices.
The routes are waiting for you! Both Colombia and Peru, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and others, Latin American countries remain fragmented between safe metropolitan areas – with a majority white population – and other areas with Afro- and indigenous populations ignored by the institutions and there is a lack of services and resources. Let's take a city bus or a bus that pulls onto a sidewalk to visit a still unknown place and pilgrimage in heterogeneous groups (students, professionals, community leaders, businessmen, industrialists, officials and others) who share the willingness to listen and listen, cooperate. .
The year 2024 is crucial to lay the sustainable foundations for the desired peace. The Paths of Peace through Antioquia pose a challenge: which path will you follow?
Doris Sommer is a professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literature at Harvard University.
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