Editor’s Note: Colombia held a plebiscite on 2 October, 2016, to vote on whether or not to accept the peace accord negotiated by the Colombian government and the FARC after more than five decades of war. The plebiscite resulted in a vote of 50.2% against the peace deal. Less than forty percent of Colombians cast a vote.
The result of the plebiscite to decide the future of the peace agreements between Colombia´s Government and FARC, has been a precise radiography of our reality – polarization between those that are willing to have an active citizenship (the yes and no voters), and apathy (those who abstained from voting) of most of our fellow citizens.
Even though it is a complex scenario, most of the analysis in national and international media has been centered in a basic logic of war: losing or winning. That is why they have included in their headlines phrases such as, “’No’ wins in Colombia.” This is a very simplistic way to understand what is happening in my country, because in reality neither position won. Neither side reached the 62% that would mean a final decision because our society is profoundly broken and fragmented due to war.
Living this difficult situation from outside the country has been heartbreaking, but it has also given me perspective and time to understand what is happening – and how I feel about it.
At first I thought of the expression, “We are just the result of our history,” as a way to understand how more than 6 million could vote no – some for fair reasons, but many out of fear and hatred of that which is different. For example, some are “afraid” of LGBTI people because we pose risk to “morality and good manners.” What morality, what good manners, I ask, in a society that has killed without remorse for more than 70 years, that is willing to kill us because we feel and love in a different way.
But in the middle of sadness and fury, I remembered that Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams said, “No one is just…” It gives me hope, because I understand that this is a moment in which I can say:
I decide not to be just the result of my history.
I decide that I will always work for a peaceful country – a country that is much more than just the result of our story.
Hope is not just a feeling, it is a decision. That is why I ask you, when you talk about what is happening in Colombia, do not say, “they are just the result of their history.” Instead say this: millions of Colombians have chosen hope, and have chosen to become much more than just a limited product of their past; they have chosen a hopeful future.