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Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human…

Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History

by Eduardo Galeano

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Taking the form of a medieval book of days, we have Eduardo Galeano's celebration of human dignity, artistic achievement and scientific discovery along with sharp zingers fired at anything smacking of racism, sexism, religious fanaticism, corporate manipulation, political power plays and the poisoning of minds, spirt, air, land and water. Of the 365, one for each day of the year, here are 10 of my favorites. I have also included several sidebars recounting my own experiences on the topics addressed. Enjoy!

On this day in 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born.
Centuries later, even babies love the music he left us.
It has been proven time and again that newborns cry less and sleep better when they listen to Mozart.
His come to the world is the best way of telling them, “This is your new home. And this is how it sounds.”

In the year 2008, Miguel Lopez Rocha, who was fooling around on the outskirts of the Mexican city of Guadalajara, slipped and fell into the Santiago River.
Miguel was eight years old.
He did not drown.
He was poisoned.
The river contained arsenic, sulfuric acid, mercury, chromium, lead and furans, dumped into its waters by Aventis, Bayer, Nestle, IBM, DuPont, Xerox, United Plastics, Celanese, and other countries that prohibit such largesse.

Sidebar: Back in the 1950s the river a block away from my home in Beachwood, just south of Toms River in Central New Jersey, was clean and clear one summer and a disgusting dirty brown polluted the next.. People from the community and government agencies have been waging an ongoing battle with the local chemical company, Ciba-Giegy, for decades. The book “Toms River” addresses this subject.

Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted for nearly a century and died still painting.
She raised a garden of painting in the solitude of the desert.
Georgia’s flowers – clitoris, vulva, vagina, nipple, belly button – were chalices for a thanksgiving mass for the joy of having been born a woman.

The twenty-first century has been walking through time for a few years now, and the number of people without adequate housing has reached one billion.
To solve this problem, experts are looking into the Christian example of Saint Simeon Stylities, who lived for thirty-seven years atop a column.
In the morning Saint Simeon would come down to pray and at night he would tie himself down, so he wouldn’t tumble off in his sleep.

Sidebar: Eduardo Galeano’s black humor has an undeniable edge when I recall how last year a college instructor specializing in geography and population told me that if the current human birth explosion continues at its current exponential rate, in fifty years there will be standing room only.

Back in the year 960, Christian missionaries invaded Scandinavia and threatened the Vikings: if you persist in your pagan customs you will end up in hell where eternal fires burn.
The Vikings welcomed the good news. They trembled from cold, not fear.

In the fourteenth century fanatical custodians of the Catholic faith declared war on cat in Europe’s cities. These diabolical animals, instruments of Satan, were crucified, skewered, skinned alive or chucked into bonfires.
Then the rats, liberated from their worst enemies, came to rule the cities. And the Black Death, transmitted by rats, killed thirty million Europeans.

Around this time in 1969, a group of scientists in the US armed forces started up a new project: they were going to create a network of networks to connect and coordinate military operations on a scale never before seen.
In the war to conquer heaven and earth, this invention, not yet called the internet, turned into a victory for the United States against its rival power, still called the Soviet Union.
Paradoxically, with the passing of the years, this instrument of war has also served to amplify the voices of peace, which previously resounded like a wooden bell.

Sidebar: So true, Eduardo! If some blowhard buffoon of a political leader started blabbing publicly about the virtues of war or making remarks about racial superiority, how long would it take for those statements to reach the worldwide internet and be read by this young man and others anywhere on the globe? Good riddance, pre-internet world!

In the year 2002, eight McDonald’s restaurants closed their doors in Bolivia.
Barely five years had this civilizing mission lasted.
No one forced McDonald’s out. Bolivians simply turned their back, or better put, McDonald’s turned their stomachs. The most successful company on the planet had generously graced the country with its presence, and these ingrates refused to acknowledge the gesture.
A distaste for progress dissuaded Bolivia from embracing either junk food or the dizzying pace of contemporary life.
Homemade empanadas derailed development. Bolivians stubbornly attached to the ancient flavors of the family hearth, continue eating without haste in long, slow ceremonies.
Gone forever is the company that everywhere else makes children happy, fires workers who try to unionize and jacks up the rate of obesity.

Sidebar: Some months ago, I recall reading the headlines in the local newspaper of how one employee in a nearby McDonald’s was arrested for selling drugs while taking orders from customers. “Would you care for some opiates or pep pills to go along with your burger and fries?” Goodness. I wonder if his McDonald’s nonunion wage had something to do with his trying to pull off that stunt.

Brazilian physician Drauzio Varella calculated that the world invests five times as much in male sex stimulants and female silicone implants as in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.
“In a few years,” he prophesized, “we will have old women with huge tits and old men with stiff cocks, but none of them will remember what they are for.”

Fernando Pessoa, the poet from Portugal, believed he lived with five or six other poets inside him.
At the end of 2010 the Brazilian writer José Paulo Cavalcanti completed his many years of research on “someone who dreamed he was many.”
Cavalcanti discovered that Pessoa did not contain five or even six: he had one hundred and twenty-seven guests in his capacious body, each with his own name, style and history, birth date and horoscope.
His one hundred and twenty-seven inhabitants signed poems, articles, letters, essays, books . . .
Several of them published vituperous criticisms of him, but Pessoa never kicked any of them out, even if it was not easy to keep such a large family fed.
( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
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"Galeano's new book is his richest and most poetic yet, a joyous calendar of the sacred and the damned, a book of inspiration for those fighting tyranny, greed, and amnesia Unfurling like a medieval book of days, each page of Galeano's new work has an illuminating story that takes inspiration from that day of the calendar year. Each entry resurrects the heroes and heroines who have fallen off the historical map, but whose lives remind us of our darkest hours and sweetest victories. Among many others, you will discover the Brazilians who held a "smooch in" to protest a dictatorship that banned kisses that "undermined public morals" and learn of the day Mexico invaded the United States, the "sacrilegious" women who had the effrontery to marry each other in a church in 1901, and Abdul Kassem Ismael, the grand vizier of Persia, who kept books safe from war by creating a walking library, 117,000 books aboard four hundred camels, forming a mile-long caravan. Beautifully translated by Galeano's longtime collaborator, Mark Fried, Children of the Days is a great humanist treasure that shows us how to live and how to remember. It awakens the best in us. "--… (more)

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