jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Recognition 2013

I had the opportunity to attend the forum jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum 2013 this week. This year’s event was held at the Diocesan Commission for Woman (CODIMUJ) in San Cristo-bal de las Casas, Chiapas on January 22nd-23rd, 2013. I wanted to take a moment to explain to you what jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum is and why it is so important to the people living in Chiapas.

To understand this event you first have to understand who jTatic Samuel is. His official name is Samuel Ruiz Garcia and he was the catholic bishop serving with the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico from 1959-2000. In 1994 he was asked to be the mediator between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Mexican government to bring a largely peaceful settlement. He committed his life, time, and love to the indigenous popu-lation in Mexico, especially Chiapas, and that is why he was given the Tstosil name of jTatic, or father. jCanan Lum means protector, and jTatic Samuel was the cuida-dor, the protector, of the people and of the earth. Now, after his passing two years ago, he has passed that torch to the many organizations and people in Chiapas who have followed in his footsteps for many years. There is no one in the state of Chiapas who does not know of jTatic Samuel.

The purpose of the recognition jCanan Lum event is to recognize people, communities, and organizations who are seeking to build peace in the social fabric of Chiapas. The seven organizations who participate in the forum jCanan Lum are INESIN, CORECO, SIPAZ, SISCAL, SERAPAZ, DESMI, and FRAYBA. They come together to discuss issues, learn from these issues, give out the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum acknowledgements, and be recharged to get back out there and do more good work.

The main topic for 2013 was concerning women and youth. The youth appear to be ashamed of their backgrounds and once they get to a certain age they leave and try to forget their heritage. The elders are concerned that there will be no one left to carry on their tradi-tions once they die. As the years progress, the youth are more attracted to the industrialized, western world; mainly, the USA. Cell phones, Facebook, video games, and today’s music are just a few things that have influenced the youth to leave their family’s traditions behind in the dust. Sadly, this is also happening all around the world.

Also, women need to have their voices heard in their communities, but at the same time, they are afraid to have rights because of their husbands/fathers/brothers. They don’t want the men in their lives to hear the things they want and wish for in their communities and lives, even if it may enhance their communities. Even at the forum jCanan Lum, where the topic was women and youth, there was more men than women at the event and scarcely any youth. These issues are something that will be worked on through-out the years and hopefully someday there will be equality for all and the youth will be proud of where they come from.

Lindsey Mercer, a member of St. John’s United Church of Christ, Bern, Missouri, serves with the Institute for Intercultural Studies and Research (INESIN) in Chiapas, Mexico, where she works as the assistant to the Program for Institutional Strengthening.