Unnecessary (Sobras)

I took the liberty of translating this piece from an opinion column in El Espectador by Fernando Araújo Vélez. It needed to be shared. The original title is Sobras

It was hard for me to pick an English translation for sobras. I went through the following synonyms:

Redundant, Superfluous, Unneeded, Extra, uncalled for, leftover, remaining, Surplus, excess, leftover, remnants, scraps, dregs, waste, one too many, Finally I decided that Sobras = Unnecessary.


We have unnecessary words for humility, submission and pardon, when these words come from those who benefit from them and for them, and we have had too much of their impositions and their deeds.


Their words and discourses are unnecessary, because they tend to be lies to deceive us, and we have superfluous variations of their tricks throughout history...


We have unnecessary texts that praise them, and we have hundreds of monuments which have perpetuated them so that we might follow their examples. We have unnecessary sell-outs who repeat history, and we have too many heirs who have conformed comfortably. We have too many tariffs, when they have been stained with blood and with death, and we have too much of the idea that money is the end, instead of the means.


We have unnecessary queens, princesses, prince charmings, aristocrats, vassals, exploiters and exploited. We have unnecessary dozens of thousands of people in uniform, because without having someone to fight, they invent and follow invented, invisible enemies so that they may continue to be indispensable. We have unnecessary uniforms, schedules, wars, and armies of those who are unable to talk and be convinced, and instead of dialogue they use force, which is to say, bullets.


We have unnecessary people who traffic in bullets, who traffic in drugs, who traffic in words, who traffic with man and who convert him into a tiny lunatic with immense gear created by them. We have unnecessary people who traffic in gods.


We have unnecessary geniuses, inspired people, who tell us what we should do and how, and disperse the idea that they are geniuses and walk around inspired so that the rest of us believe it’s impossible to be like them. We have unnecessary owners of the truth, judges of contests, and prizes. We have too many medals for heroism, and too much of the belief that heroes are those who give their life for the motherland, and we have way too many motherlands. We have unnecessary borders, parades, latest fashions and new styles. We have unnecessary estates, fences, walls, notaries. We have unnecessary goals, productivity, and perfection, because perfection is condemning ourselves to centuries of centuries of serving a patron, and all of the patrons are uncalled for.


We have unnecessary front men, their firms and their works, and all of the work of those who write for convenience. We have unnecessary fear, acting out of fear, and living for obligations determined by others, and being employed by those others. We have unnecessary employees, which is to say people who are used, and what’s more, we have too many people who want to be the employee (used person) of the year. We have too much naiveté of voting over and over again for the same people, believing for some reason that our education, our health and our life are somehow important to these people.


We have unnecessary learning and living to the letter of the law, and we have so many unnecessary things perhaps because we ourselves are unnecessary.

Link to original piece in Spanish.