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Gypsies -- Tramps and Theives

By Monique Monet

Gypsies - Tramps and Theives e-vis-cer-ate 1. to remove the entrails from. 2. to deprive of vital parts. Most of you are probably familiar with the word. I know it felt like the right word to me, although I wasn't certain until I looked it up in Webster's. But eviscerate is definitely the word I'm after.

Increasingly over the last few years I've noticed the media striving to eviscerate the Gypsy people. I'm aware that their efforts were well-intentioned - - radiating from the soft, warm bosom of political correctness.

I read of: The Rom as an oppressed minority. The Romany's desperate need for some type of affirmative action. The poor down-trodden Romi/Gypsy and the urgent need to provide them with a hand-out and a help up, etc. There are many Gypsies who would gladly, and rightly and reasonably, improve their economic and social position through any means offered them by governmental or charitable organizations. But at a deep level, this trend toward viewing the Rom as one of society's pitiable weaklings is eviscerating.

We are the world's ultimate survivors. Among many other trials, the Gypsy people, like the Jews, were principle targets of Nazi atrocities. Hundreds of thousands of Gypsy men, women, and little children were forced to follow the instructions posted at the entryway to Dachau, "Enter through the gate, exit by way of the chimneys."

But unlike the Jews, many, many Gypsies are, after countless centuries, still a people without a land to call their own. And therefore, since the Dark Ages of Europe, they've lived like a troop of foraging soldiers within enemy territory.

Often contemporary articles make it sound as if Gypsies are harassed and picked-on for no reason at all. Many times that is probably the truth. But often, particularly in days gone by, the animosity of mainstream society toward the Romi was completely understandable (I refer you to the earlier simile of Gypsy as survivor within enemy territory).

Of course there are many of Romi background who are rock-solid members of mainstream society. But also there are, even today, tightly knit clans of Gypsies who continue to live by their own ancient rules. I have spent time (in the S.F. Bay Area and in Seattle) with aunts, uncles, even young cousins, observing (and once or twice helping) as they successfully performed ingenious, and usually funny, maneuvers benefiting their clan at the (reasonably minor and harmless) expense of society.

They see and act from a perspective very different from most people's. And there are those who would not hesitate to call them unethical (and worse). But within the tightly closed perimeter of their own group, I know of no people more consistently kind, honest, and virtuous than the Gypsy.

The true Gypsies are indeed different, but certainly not lesser beings. And the day may have already dawned in which you will look to us for guidance; in which we will offer our shoulder for support to an anxiety-ridden and confused mainstream society. Change is in the air. And many people, like Bob Dylan's Mr. Jones, know something's happening, but they don't know what it is. The Gypsies are all too familiar with what is happening. It's an inescapable phenomenon called change. Even the most powerful and stable entities on Earth are subject to it. For example, a hundred years ago the mighty British Empire over-shadowed all others. Now it doesn't. Today the USA is struggling courageously and conscientiously with the awesome responsibility of being the "last super power". Will this situation continue on for the next hundred years? Probably not. More than any other people, the Gypsies know change. Time and time again, we've watched worlds crumble around us. (I feel presumptuous saying us and we. I've been blessed with a comfortable and easy life; but my grandmother's stories, and those of the other elders, still give me goosebumps of fright even sixty and more years after their happening.) Changes come. Sometimes literally earth-shaking changes - - and we, the Gypsies, survive.

We are not some anemic fringe minority; or a breed of chronic under-achievers at the mercy of corporate-driven high-tech society. And we will not be eviscerated, not even by a well-intentioned, "politically correct" media.

We, as a people, have knowledge born of experience. And a strength literally tempered in the flames of trial. Far from being weak or needy; we can offer help to our more mainstream neighbors in times of trouble. And we can offer comfort and perhaps guidance through periods of stress and anxiety.

We know how to live in a nation without geography, a "kingdom within". We can comfortably feed, cloth, shelter, even entertain ourselves - - without General Mills, Benington's, or MGM. We have access to a world of inner peace, protected and regulated by real, and accessible, powers - - more genuine than that of any army or government.

By definition (eviscerate: to deprive of vital parts) I know of no people less eviscerated, and definitely none more in active possession of their "vital parts" than the Gypsy.

Monique Monet, of Syrian Domi/Gypsy heritage, was raised in Southern California and currently lives in Oregon and Hawaii. In addition to her artistic and spiritual practices, she is a Middle Eastern, World, and Modern dancer. She can be contacted through her website www.moniquemonet.com. And you can learn more about her and her ideas by way of her new film Revolutionary Dance.