|Papi grew up in the streets of Chalatenango, El Salvador; |
photo cred: Papi, April 2015
I was born into a family of fighters. Papi and his family were raised fighting injustice during the Salvadoran civil war. My brother learned to confront adversity with rage both in the street and at home. My sister used her voice and fists to protect herself. I actively threw left hooks of silence and Mami fought on her knees. Still, we descended from lineages of revolutionary warriors.
Strapped with this legacy, my father and two of his sisters immigrated to the US carrying invisible knapsacks; heavy with stories of their traumatic yet heroic past. But trauma always has its aftermath; and growing up in the crossfire, with two murdered brothers, weighed Papi down. While survivors of violence need an outlet to heal and process the past, there was no healthy escape for my father. So the home became ground zero. As children, we learned from Papi to stand up to the weapons that came for us. I was born and bred to fight.
Yet, before I walk out the door, girded and ready, I remember to use another weapon, prayer. I remember, Mami fought too. On bended-knee, Mami showed that prayer and meditation were powerful weapons that yielded results.
Others used influence, superiority and charged power, to face oppressive forces. But God’s strategies are different: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6) To a fighter, every weapon counts, especially if it's effective.
While Baltimore makes sense to me, I ask the Great Spirit to shift something in me--to assuage the rage I feel for this beloved country. Because this rage can equally destroy me. With the hope of becoming a strategic fighter, I read more scripture: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4) Armed with these sacred reminders, I am left with no other option but to continue fighting.