In response to a rich man who thought to say that "The poor do not read because they are ignorant", here is a text from our brother Alfredo Mires published two years ago in the book "Esa luz de más adentro" (That light from deep inside):
The Communal Root of Health
He is not ignorant he who does not know the multiplication chart or the lyrics of the national anthem. It is not ignorance not travelling to other countries or not knowing how to eat with a knife and fork. Less ignorance still is not knowing the name of the singer of the moment or the last political event of the country.
We in the countryside call ignorance the lack of generosity, the lack of gratitude and gratuity. Ignorant are the abusive and the hurtful, the mean and the opportunistic, the creeper, the coward, the traitor and the trickster. Ignorant is he who is disrespectful, who does not know how to live in community, who does not share and does not dream.
Whoever denies and offends the life of the other is more than ignorant: he is wretched. Bitter must be the life of one who does not know how to appreciate the value of the rest. That is why God appears in the form of a beggar, the poorest of the poor, to test the inner worth of his people.
Whoever prides himself on the clothes he wears, on what he earns by exploiting or being exploited, on the titles or foolish reasons that confer banal powers on the brute, are only walking tombs, sad headstones, truncated flowers, forced tears. Ignorant.
To see potatoes, corn, peas, or ocas as mere products, as simple "natural resources," is a shame. Because it is not an object that which lives and that which is the generous fruit of the earth and of the creative efforts of our grandparents.
That is what our elders teach us, that is what the stories of all the communities in the Andes tell us: that food is sacred, that they are a blessing, that every plant, every stone, every beat has its power and fortune.
These tales of ours, fruitful school of the deepest knowledge, tell us that the health of the people depends on this grace, on the mutual affection among all living beings, on the endearing affection, on the highest respect, on the primordial kinship among all of us who have been creating together.
When the cornfields and potato plants sing in the wind, when the ocas rest in the sun to sweeten us later, when the whole earth is a permanent promise, we know that it is worth living, and that this feeling alone is wisdom. This is the health that does not reside in hospitals nor pharmacies. This is the foundation that escapes ignorance.