I rarely if ever mention politics in my work. But Donald Trump’s recent comment about shithole countries, goes beyond politics. It’s about basic human values. So, I feel compelled to speak about what seems to me lurks at a deeper level.
Four years ago I made the decision not to spend another winter in New England. I confess that my initial impulse was to get away from the cold. But a close second reason was to immerse myself in another culture.
The following years I wintered in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and now in Guanajuato, Mexico – all on just Social Security (but that’s another story). My delight in the Latin American culture stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s recent comment. And I support the controversial slogan I recently saw sported by a Mexican youth in Guanajuato, Mexico’s Union Garden town square, Mexico Is The Shit.
Mexico Is The Shit
What seems at first to be self-denigrading is in fact an affirmation. According to the jacket’s designer Anuar Layton, this is a hundred percent Mexican national product, about which he says…
The jacket is in English because we wanted to impact the world with the phrase that Mexico is cool, that Mexico is incredible for us. In Spanish it was more complicated. We all know that English is the universal language that reigns in communication in the world, in many areas.
He goes on…
This is not just a jacket, it is a statement, an opportunity to remind the world that Mexico is great, that everything done in Mexico is well done. It is a tribute to all those Mexicans around the world who are changing the global culture with their beautiful hearts and brilliant minds, it is a way to show that we are many and that we are together, raising the standards, reminding the world that our voice matters. Mexico is the shit is a community, a support system and a movement that inspires love, respect and trust, and the best thing is that you do not have to be Mexican to be part of it, you just have to love Mexico as we do. Spread the word.
I’m proud to be a part of this movement by living part of my life and sharing my experience in this predominantly brown and black country – similar to those countries to whom Trump has pointed as shitholes. But what can I say when my Mexican friends ask about my president? I say I’m embarrassed.
What needs to change?
But I can’t just leave it at that. It gnaws at me that my beloved, native land could have elected a bigot who constantly spews hatred and flirts with global annihilation by denying climate change, threatening North Korea and therefore the entire world with fire and fury, etc. Sure, I can point the finger at the others who elected him, or rail against the Republican Party, whom Noam Chomsky calls the earth’s most dangerous organization ever.
But on sleepless nights I come to realize that the issue goes deeper than these others. Just as Jungian psychologists point out, had I been alive during the Third Reich, my shadow side probably would have gone along with or at least not effectively resisted the holocaust. What is it in me that would allow such an atrocity to happen? And what is it about me, that needs to change?
Even as I accustom my self to Latin America, and still struggle after four years to learn the language, I find myself saying Lo siento, hablo poquito espianol (Sorry, I speak only a little Spanish.) How does this come off to the Senora down the street from whom I buy my luncheon Gordita (pocket sandwich), or the Senior whom I ask to imprimir un documento desde mi unidad flash (print a document from my flash drive).
Why am I highlighting this difference between us and apologizing for my inability to get out of my linguistic comfort zone? Here seems to me to be the essence of the matter. Here is what I need to overcome in myself to begin curing the cancer that now infects me and my nation.
Flipping the problem into an intention
It seems to me that the cure is to flip the problem into an intention. For example, I will no longer apologize for or hide from my problem. Instead I will declare my intention. I will no longer say Sorry, I speak only a little Spanish. I will declare instead my intention that I am learning Spanish.
Testing this out on the neighbors down the street, I find this makes a huge difference in our relationships. Whereas my apology for my problem seemed to close down possibilities, the declaration of my intention seemed to open them up. You see, instead of backing away from embarrassing myself further, I’m now putting myself in a position to move forward. And Mis amigos Mexicanos find themselves in a better position to help me.
So where does this take me in the long run? I see huge possibilities in this flipping the difference into a challenge. I wonder what are the implications of flipping the problems of global warming and nuclear holocaust from problems into what specific intentions I can take myself toward solutions.
Is it too late for me?
I once knew a retiree who said:
I did my part when I was younger. Now it’s someone else’s turn.
I disagree. It seems to me that it is never too late to take responsibility.
Now it’s your turn.
So what problem can you flip into an intention? Please share what you think in the Leave a reply section below.