Faebel squeezes through a chair as children laugh

Laughter In Our Bellies

CWB – USA joins Palhaços sem Fronteiras Brasil (PSF-Brazil) to perform for indigenous Guaraní communities in Mato Grosso do Sul, where they are displaced and threatened by loss of lands, deforestation, and export-agriculture. Faeble Kievman writes about the Guaraní people’s strong sense of place and identity. 

We perform our first shows in Brazil at the Lacu’y school on the indigenous lands of Aldeia Bororo. It’s a joy to share laughter with this audience. In this region, there are a group of people who call themselves “The Clowns.” They cause trouble, so we’re delighted to be introduced as “Real Clowns” and share the magic, awe, curiosity.

In Dorados, on indigenous land, the earth is red. The people say that the earth has been colored by the blood of their ancestors. We sing a local song together, which says that laughter comes from the earth.

They believe that every child is born with a good soul bird and a bad soul bird. The bad soul bird might lead us off track, but the good soul bird can center us in our bellies. This community is dealing with suicide and drug abuse, and we’ve been told that the soul bird is lost in the sky—not connected to our bodies, hearts, minds, and bellies. The bad soul bird is lost, flying in many directions. I try to imagine a world in which their way of life is free from the dogma and demonization they now face.

So far, we’ve come across two prayer houses that have been burned, while there are over 100 churches in this area. In some ways, the churches help a lot of people get out of intense addictive behaviors and suicidal tendencies. On the other hand, I’m learning that the traditional, spiritual path has a lot of beauty to it. Today, a ceremonial dancer tells us that a lot of people are returning to the old ways. They seek education in school, and return to the ceremonial space for questions and answers about life.

I think it’s important to consider what “education” really means. Do we accept that everyone must live in a society that caters to industrialization and consumerism? If so, is education something that that everyone has to pursue?

When will this industrial giant will learn its lesson. Without indigenous ways, there is no life for humans. When will we make the choice to love where we come from, to cherish connection with the land? When will we touch our hands and feet to the ground, thank our mama and embrace the red earth beneath us? We live in a world of contradictions and opposing views. The more I think I know, the less I actually know. I but I do know one thing: Laughter comes from the red earth at the center of our bellies.

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