11 July 2023, El Espectador
A few weeks ago, when the joint work of indigenous people and the army succeeded in finding the four children lost in the jungle alive, Mauricio Rodríguez – a peace and leadership builder – wrote: “I wish all Colombians could unite to find our ‘four lost children’: peace, equity, solidarity and respect”.
As if we were walking on a Moebius strip or climbing down the stairs painted by Escher, for more than 60 years 50 million Colombians have felt orphaned of those four children that Mauricio speaks of; those that we did not know how to take care of, because other priorities monopolised the headlines and the agendas of a consciousness rarefied by war and indifference.
They were recast before our eyes, they slipped from our hands and words; they were lost between the everyday and the transcendent, at the Sunday table and in environments that discriminate; in the confessional and in xenophobia, in the lotteries that were never won and in the bullets that were always lost. They are gone, because our history is full of crashed planes (relationships, rifles, embraces, dissent), which have been crashing for years in the backyard and in the trenches of war, in the dead of Darién, Cauca, Catatumbo and Caquetá.
And if we manage to find the four children Mauricio is talking about, we will have to offer them a second or fifth chance on earth; give them a new genetic material that will help them overcome so many years of armed conflict, the scars of an exclusionary policy and of a dissociated and lonely society, in which some drown and others go each in their own boat, on their own river and with their own compass. For years we have been “ignoring” our neighbours, the four children and the jungles of trees and asphalt in which we have all been lost at one time or another.
And this is not to depress us, but to wake us up:
Peace is an abused, mistreated child we have failed to protect. Equity was shattered under the blades of vested interests, of the owners of everything, of the masters who did not know how to love.
Solidarity appears when hurricanes and earthquakes shatter the sky and the earth, but it is far from being a daily driving force in people’s hearts and balance sheets.
Not to mention the fourth child, respect, which no longer exists in a country that in 6 months has committed more than 50 massacres and has seen 89 social leaders and more than 20 peace signatories assassinated.
Our four children, sick and urgent, demand that we unite the first and the last line, the indigenous and the military guard, the artists and the prisoners, the teachers and the landowners, the 15 million Colombians who suffer from food insecurity, and the 4 citizens who have more wealth than 25 million Colombians.
It is on the rescue of the four children that Mauricio speaks of that our nation becomes emotionally, economically and socially viable.
Peace, equity, solidarity and respect. Our four pillars for which it is well worth disarming our spirits. It is late but not impossible, and one would think that it is now, the government of life, that is called upon to channel these 50 million rescuers. Call it an ethical mandate or a social challenge, if we decide to survive scepticism, if the morass does not devour our capacity for hope, if we understand that the enemy is not our neighbour but inertia, our four lost children will come back to life and bring us back from pain and oblivion.