Venezuela: To live without anesthesia

Rafael describes Venezuela’s rationing of water, poverty and pandemic: "I wanted to turn everything off, hide from the world, in the pain of nothingness.” Yet something within him resists. A desire, a flame.

The most painful form of loss is when you know it is forever. When you realize what has happened, what is no longer there, you feel great remorse, you get so angry at a world that seems to go on as if nothing has happened, while you feel that everything is falling apart. Will I be able to endure this pain? I know I do not want to, but can I? I have lost so much. I do not want to look for meaning in this.
What bothers me the most is that I want to go on living. Maybe I do not see everything I have lost? How can you live like this?
But there is a flame that wants more, that seeks more, that is attracted to the future, to what can still come. I want to feed on that, but I am tired, I am afraid they will take everything away from me.

But You insist, You keep knocking on my door, I hear You. You have become "forever", and even though I walk in mourning, in darkness, there is no despair because you to call me, tirelessly, forever.

Every day I live in fear. The crisis in Venezuela has been in free fall since Coronavirus worsened, everything seems to collapse and this feeling crushes me. My parents go to work every day crossing the city on public transport that does not respect the health measures. After more than a year of only a weekly water supply, the service is getting worse and I have to walk for miles carrying the tanks to do the most basic things at home. Large companies are deserting the country and leaving millions of people without windows onto the world, more and more isolated. Every day we are assailed by the fear that everything will stop working, that the basic things will lack, and that we will get sick, as our health system is poor. We are afraid that everything will end in nothing.

Sometimes I have the feeling that reality is biting me, that opening my eyes in the morning will be nothing more than receiving a new message about something that is over. On such days, I do not want to get up, I want to stay there and not know anything. I am exhausted.

I must confess that after a while I get angry, I realize that there is something within me - that I am not "just" me - that wants to go on, that is attracted to the future, that keeps dreaming, that keeps calling me back to something bigger than what I am living. At first it was a feeling that reassured me, there was a place where sadness, anxiety, nothingness did not reach. But then I had to go out to get water, to survive. And I was annoyed by this force that was tearing me away from the sadness and anger that I thought I could not eliminate.

In those days, I was doing School of Community with "ready answers": I did not want to believe in Him as an excuse not to look at what was happening in the country, I did not want to say "let us go on" as if we were not living an injustice. Every time I came out of the meeting with my friends of the movement, I noticed that this prejudice was unfounded: no one asked me to be strong, no one said that we had to go on anyhow and everyone was interested in looking at what was happening, even if many times we were dejected by the tragic news. "Where is God in all this?", asked someone at School of Community: this question made me realize that I did not see Him when I went to get water to take home. I am left surprised when I realize this.

With this in mind, I read the first chapter of The radiance in your eyes, and I was struck by this phrase by Edgar Morin: "I have understood that concealing facts that disturb us, anesthetizing and eliminating them from our mind, is a source of errors and illusions.” That was exactly what was happening to me: I wanted to turn everything off, hide from the world, not having to look for new ways to survive, I wanted to immerse myself in anger, in the pain of nothingness. I felt I had every right.

I now realize that only looking at the piece of reality that hurts anesthetizes me: it prevents me from seeing that, after so many years, I sit at the table with my parents and we talk freely about what we think; my family has never been very "communicative", but now, in the middle of the crisis, we find ourselves more united than ever, we are more ourselves. In seeking an answer to life, we began to talk about our vocation, dreams and hopes, and this had never happened before.

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I still feel a lot of pain for my country, and fear returns with every new piece of news, but now I understand how pain can also anesthetize me, to the point that I do not recognize God when I need Him most. Only by staying awake do I realize that there is something worth following, and that in order to have it I do not have to stop looking at the world: rather I have to look at it in the face, with all its nuances. If He is in everything, it means that He is not only where I need Him to be. That would be the reduction of my relationship with Him, which allows me to get out of bed.

Rafael, Caracas, Venezuela