Today is César Chávez Day, and we know that his legacy and is accomplishments still live on, whether it is with Dolores Huerta, the United Farm Workers, or the many other Latino activists whom Chávez has inspired through his deeds and words.
However, as the United States enters a very critical time in its history, we often wonder (especially when we see so many stories of injustice and political hypocrisy from BOTH sides of the aisle), if César Chávez were alive today, what would he be doing? What would he be saying? We think we know, just by reading what he has said in the past and applying his words to now.
When we read this quote: "Kindness and compassion toward all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bull fighting and rodeos are cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent toward all life will we have learned to live well ourselves," we KNOW that César would be in Arizona leading a movement to remind people that action against injustice is noble and good. He would have parked himself right on the stage of the GOP debates and said, "¡BASTA YA!" to the messages of anti-immigrant hate that have tainted this nation and our ability to live together in peace. He would have been in Sanford, he would have been with in El Cajón fighting for Shaima. And he would have been humble about it, not someone whose leadership would take over the situation. César would have gone beyond just a Latino cause. He struggle would have been for all of humanity.
When we read these quotes: "Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures" and "We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation," we KNOW that César would be fighting with the students at TUSD to save Mexican American Studies in the Tucson schools and becoming a Librotraficante.
When we read this quote: "Society is made up of groups, and as long as the smaller groups do not have the same rights and the same protection as others – I don't care whether you call it capitalism or communism -it is not going to work. Somehow, the guys in power have to be reached by counterpower, or through a change in their hearts and minds, or change will not come," we know that César would have been at Zuccotti Park during #OWS, telling Congress to start thinking for EVERY American, and he would also have a word for the President that change must truly occur.
When we read this quote: "Being of service is not enough. You must become a servant of the people. When you do, you can demand their commitment in return," we believe César would roll right into the White House and let President Obama know that people's votes are not a given. You have to be a servant of the people, and when you make promises about DREAM Acts and comprehensive immigration reform to win votes, you get the job done.
When we read this quote: "In the final analysis it doesn't really matter what the political system is…We don't need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation," we know César would be telling EVERYONE to just GET INVOLVED in the political system because only then will true change happen.
And when we read this quote, "¡Sí se puede!" we know that César is still here with us, each and every day, inspiring so many to put aside their egos, their quests for power, and just be. Just be respectful, compassionate, humble, and loving. Expose injustice but when those see the error of their ways, forgive them and move forward together.
We leave you with this quote that has always resonated with us:
"It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity."
It sure IS an awesome opportunity. ¡Viva la Causa!