Monday, November 25, 2013

Colombia's Confused Taoists

What combines religion, sports, martial arts, quirky diet rules, human rights issues and a big dash or paranoia?

Colombian Taoism.

I hadn't known that Taoism, which comes from Asia, even existed Colombia. But there they were this afternoon on Plaza Bolivar, rallying almost like the many other human rights groups, denouncing the Uribe administration for human rights violations, including the alleged killings of Taoists. I said 'almost', since the rally also included kids practicing martial arts, huge images of bearded Tao |leaders, who looked like figures from the Old Testament, and - even more strangely - a huge wooden cross.

Roso, a young Taoist handing out literature on the plaza, told me that in 2004 some 500 Taoists were murdered by the military near their temple in the town of Guitama "because we were teaching healthy living habits." Many massacres did take place in Colombia during the 1990s and early 2000s. But none produced 500 victims, much less because they promoted healthy living. It seems likely to me that the military or paramilitaries might have observed this eccentric community and assumed, rightly or wrongly, that they were guerrilla supporters.

Roso also offered an even more bizarre explanation for the military's alleged crimes against the Taos: Zionism. He didn't explain the connection on this one.
Perusing photos of the disappeared.

Roso also explained to me that Taoism in Colombia relies on three fundamental practices: dietary rules, exercise and sexual discipline. "Never mix sweet and sour foods," he said. "Eating sweet and sour together is why so many people have cancer."

A schooteacher, Roso also said that after becoming a Taoist nine years ago, he had cleaned up his life and disciplined his sex life, including stopping masturbating. "I used to drink and drink and do all kinds of things," he recalled.

Ejaculation expells important nutrients, he explained, weakening the person. Roso now felt much stronger, he said, practicing 'scientific chastity.'

I couldn't help asking Roso why the Taoist rally featured a huge wooden cross. The explanation seemed to be that Taoists recognized the prophets of other religions.

Martial arts play a fundamental part in Tao.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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