Sunday, September 7, 2008

PD/PS - humanity and fragility

After getting some jittery comments from my family about my recent posts, and after passing a rather explosive weekend (Margaret tells me that Jupiter is reigning at the moment and apparently that means conflict), I thought it would be fitting to write a little PS:

I just went down to my local market, which for me is always a good Sunday activity that gives good respite - the vendors there fill my heart and really treat me well.

I was also able to talk about these recent thuderous thoughts with a couple of friends - my Colombian friend, who is only too familiar with violence and conflict, shrugged his shoulders and said "don´t let yourself get affected". He's right. I cannot let myself get sangrona, hot blooded and edgy.

Then, it all just clicked: I'm tired. I want to go home.
Ever since having my ticket back to Sydney booked, my thoughts have been in another place, and I feel ever more inquieta. However much I love this country and I adore my life at the moment, and am so grateful for my job, my blessings, everything. I am tired.

Suddenly, my own words jumped into my head: words that I used a year ago, writing on this very blog, living in this very same country, learning about it; growing back then as I am now:

I am facing it straight on, getting up and coming and goin, and realising that the millions of lives struggling to make their way in this city do NOT funnily enough combine to make it a trampling rat race, but rather you feel lifted up and carried by the collective journeys of so many dreams travelling around you. And you feel people caring for people - understanding that at the end of the day they have their aunt, their brother, their friend to look after and share life with. The infallible Mexican community identity always comes through. The truth that is felt so strongly in this country is that the people around you are the most important part of your life.

It´s been a journey, a long one. I am ready to be on Australian shores, and rest for a bit, before coming back to my beloved Mexico.

Being in Europe (Geneva and Berlin) next week will be very good for me I think.

Signing off from a somewhat more calm state of mind.....!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some very whacked statements

In a nutshell, Mexico is going through a period of alarming increases in violence related to organized crime, (in case I hadnt made that clear in earlier posts, ahem)...

Anyway, I thought I wanted to publish some of the more whacked statements that have come out as of late:

Of course there is the classic from the president Felipe Calderon: "If you see dust flying, don´t worry, we are just cleaning the house" (justifying the dramatic rise in deaths)

And then, today, this one is a special freakshow of its own:

The death penalty has recently been thrown around in Mexico as a popular and demagogic response to fear over crime levels:
Yesterday,María Elena Morera, the head of "Mexico United Against Crime" (a citizens group that brings together the worst of knee-jerk policy responses and is in bed with the big business sector), stated:

"If the public is asking for life sentences and the death penalty for serious crimes, we should give it to them, although this does not solve the problem. I wonder whether we crimes such as house robberies should also be considered for the death penalty".

What a corker.

All this comes admist proposals from the Mexican Army to train all federal police in military formation, and to top them off with the death penalty if they dont behave.

Yep. They´re really across it all.

Men and Women. Life and Love.

How can it be that a country, a culture, is so violent? So macho? How is it, that over coffee today a neighbour told me that of her circle of friends of women about 60 years old, only one of them had not experienced violence against her in her life? How can it be that this same neighbour can tell me of almost being killed by her former husband? But really, how?

How can it be so: That it's not unheard of for a mexican woman to think that her husband doesn't love her anymore because he hasn't beaten her in 2 weeks?

How can it be that 13,000 women in mexico each year die at the hands of their partners?

How can it be that men can beat their wives and then retreat into regret over their actions, tequila and a pathetic ranchero song whose lyrics speak to the immaturity of the phenomenon of maschimso, lamenting "take me back my love, I need you, I am nothing without you"...... yeah, great self esteem on both the part of women and men there.

I suppose it's what happens when the foundation of a country and a culture is based on rape. The pattern is repeated, over and over and over again.

This all may sound too extreme, and it is not all like this. And violence does happen everywhere, australia, finland, not just in mexico. I know some of the most gorgeous mexican couples that love each other in the most beautiful way.

There are days when I just get so angry about the culture of violence, machismo, complete corruption and impunity that I think it is insurmoutable. The fact that even teachers are corrupt and buy their way into jobs and cheat on teaching exams, and that 80 per cent of kids in 9th grade dont have basic literacy skills, and that the lack of a strong education system is stuffing the whole thing up, and that the amount of deaths in mexico in june from drug-trafficking related violence was practically at a par at the deaths in Iraq. And that we´re up to 5,000 deaths in 18 months.

How can it be, how is it, that when the young man at my local shop stares in my eyes with a grin and asks me, "so do you live alone, or with friends?", that I should conceive that question as a form of violence? That I feel like shouting back at him and saying "it´s none of your bloody business man!!" - why do I feel vulnerable? Why does the taxi driver turn his rearview mirror so he can look straight at me? why do people even feel scared to drop you off even just a block from your house, and instead will make a massive bottleneck turn just to drop you at your door? Why the hell is there no phrase to say "I am embarrassed" and the literal translation is "It causes me pain" ("me da pena") - what in god's name is going on with phrases that contain such a lack of self belief and a need to keep in form and in line with appearances? Why did I feel like sharply replying to my friend today when he commented on my unmade bed on a lazy saturday morning and I thought "so what, I'm not fulfilling a woman´s role then?" what on earth provokes such thoughts? Such anger and heightened sensitivity to things that before I wouldn't have cared about? Such conflict?

Where the hell did love go? How did it become grabbing each other, asking the girl where she has been, who she has been with, pulling her hair firmly, pushing her, .... these are the realities of relationships in mexico, that often start with these signs in younger years between boyfriends and girlfriends, and then when life gets more serious and pressured between husband and wife, with kids, it becomes insults, shouts, beatings and even deaths.

I felt sick about all this walking home today, and then out of no-where the song "where is love, does it comes from skies above, is it underneath a willow tree, that I´ve been dreaming of".. -from the musical Oliver - came into my head.

Really, it makes me sad.

Where is the love of lying on the grass and laughing in the summertime, of talking about favourite songs and sharing music, of staying awake just to hear someone's voice, of talking of dreams and ambitions and who we are as people and what gives us joy, of tenderness, a childish excitement, a real respect, true love?