Being in a Mexican State of Mind
By Missionary David Cox [email protected]
It is not surprising, but people in other countries think differently than Americans. To a Muslim, it is perfectly alright to do violence in the name of their religion. We should not be surprised by that these days.
For Catholics like in Mexico, there is a kind of easy going-ness that is in both things (Catholics and Mexicans) that gets translated into not worrying about things. This is not really laziness, nor putting off really, but a lack of priority in life. They make things work even when life doesn’t hand them things in an easy, orderly, laid out fashion.
For example, they need work, are starving to death, so they want to get a good job in the US. They go and apply for a Visa, and get turned down. Then they just go to the border and try to cross, and the immigration people turn them back. They hang the border for a while talking to other Mexicans, and they find somebody that can get them across, so they do what they have to do in order to accomplish what they want.
They understand that the Catholic Church tells them that they will not get to heaven unless the do (a works oriented list). They consider that they will get to heaven somehow even though their local priest tells them they have to do what he says. They pay him some money under the table and he overlooks what he said before and grants that they are on their way to heaven.
All of this is highly rooted in a kind of pragmatism that overtakes your life and becomes a part of you and how you do things. You get things done, but not necessarily as “clean” and “proper” as many would like. What is good about this mentality is when you get confronted with a closed door, the person doesn’t stop trying. Most Americans will take a “No”, as I have to change my goals and directions and go somewhere else and do something else.
On the negative side, these people often cross the law, and do things that are not legal. When in the US as an illegal alien, they often are turned down for work because they have no proof of US citizenship nor do they have a Social Security number. This is easily fixed by assuming somebody’s fake ID. They go back to their network and get somebody to give them a valid name and Social Security number, and then they get fake documents made up in order to “go forward”.
The Mexican Taco Stand
Another famous example of this pragmatism is the famous Mexican Taco stand. You see these stands selling tacos all over the place in Mexico and where the Mexican culture extends, like in Los Angeles. But did you every think why? Mexicans make these taco stands because 1) they don’t have the money necessary to buy or rent a nice place like a McDonald’s restaurant, and fix it up, and sell their food and make an income that way. So they do it however they can get away with it. 2) they don’t necessarily want to go through the legal hoop jumping that is necessary in order to legally sell food on the street like that.
It is amazing to me that local cities allow these places without a bathroom for their employees, without health standards, without food quality standards, to continue year after year. In Mexico, we understand fully. You grease the palms of the inspectors and you get by for a while longer. Then when they finally take you to court, you get a “greasy” lawyer to grease give under the table money to the judge. If that doesn’t work then you just let things go and move on to another town tomorrow. If they tag your name and identity, then just change that also.
What people don’t understand is that this is a way of thinking and living. It is pragmatism at its best. Just make life work for you, and damn morals and principles if they get in your way. This is what the Catholic church has become, and this is what Protestant Christian missions are trying to break through in this Latin culture.
Most Catholic priests drink something fierce. They “wink at” any kind of immoral activities in the Catholic cultural celebrations. These cultural celebrations that are distinctive in each Catholic country is heavy with drugs, alcohol, and sex (as well as crimes). As long as the church (individual priests and parishes) get their kickback, they will give their blessing, and open the celebrations with the Catholic mass. It makes no matter how much drunkenness follows, nor how many girls and women are violated, nor how much robbery and thievery goes on.
This is the problem with pragmatism, it separates morality (what we should do in order to please God) from what is most beneficial to us, and what we are going to do.
You can preach until you are blue in the face to a pragmatic person, and he will smile and agree with you always, but leaving the doors of the church, he will do what is “best for him” no matter what he just agreed with God to do in the church. He sees this as normal, and there is no compulsion of his conscience as he does this. He understands that he doesn’t dominate his world, (going back to old Spanish conquerors treating the common folk like “peons” or slaves, and they either accept what their authority tells them or they die, so they accept and going out do whatever they want anyway, and sometimes pay a heavy price).
The Corruption of the U.S. Legal System
While you as an American view this with “aghast” and “horror”, don’t think it hasn’t affected you and the United States. The same pragmatic thinking has taken so deep root in California that it probably should be separated from the US as another country. Because the illegal aliens work the fields, and because Americans don’t want to pay $10 for a tomato like in Japan, then they “wink at” the illegal workforce in California. The infamous “Day without an Illegal” that the immigrant community has tried to bring to light is an acknowledgment of their importance and dependence in American society.
I don’t know that I personally agree with all that, but they are a force to contend with. Most people are not going to pay more for something just for some moral reason. For example, in Mexico, you can go to a video store and buy a recent film that is in the theaters for $35 dollars, or buy it in a stand on the street for $3, or in the US you can go to an Internet site like youtube and watch it for free. People slowly get conditioned to prefer the cheaper one, and ignore the moral issues involved in it. This is why China has flooded our markets with their cheap goods, many times being produced by workers that are criminals who work long hours in prison factories for just a bowl of white rice. Americans ignore the moral issues associated with that because they would rather pay $10 for a Chinese shirt rather than $35 for an American made one. So when we judge, we should look inside our own lifestyle to see how we are actually living in this line or against this pragmatism.
In Mexico, politics is about handouts. From the Mexican government stealing the petroleum industry from their foreign company owners to “nationalize” it around 1957, to Mexico declaring all mining rights belong to the country, and a mine has to give a commission to the government for everything they pull out of the ground, this shake-down of the people is common.
They make a pretense of giving the money they get by these strong arm tactics back to the people, The famous one is that the lottery helps the poor people. Rich people lose their money in a nice Casino which caters to the upper class rich people. Good food, alcohol, expensive entertainment like in Las Vegas are the frills and extras for those who lose millions in these places. The lottery is for the poor people where people who are struggling to make it from day to day can also lose great amounts of money. By giving some small percentage of the illicit gains of gambling, that makes it alright. This is just the ugly head of Pragmatism rising up again.
The Pragmatic Democratic Political Playbook
The “standard-operating-procedure” for the Democratic party all the way back as far as I can remember (the 1970s for me) has been to take government money (always described as coming from non-people or some despised segment of society like the rich, the industrialists, the powerful, etc) and then give it to the poor. Is there a reason why in a country founded on the principles that our country has been founded on should forcibly take from one group to give to another group? Where is the moral undergirding for forcing people to give alms to the poor? In Scripture, what is not given voluntarily doesn’t count anything before God for the person doing the giving, does it?
But the Democrats have always promised free giveaways to blacks, to single moms, to the poor, the disabled, to the underprivileged, etc. I am not saying I don’t have pity for these people, but that is where churches and charities come in and the government has taken over here. A church or charity examines the individual case, and a single woman that has 15 kids by different husbands is not desiring of any financial help. She needs moral help before anything financial should come. A drug addict or drunk doesn’t need food stamps but moral help before he gets other kinds of help.
The government is “amoral”, not supporting (by law) any one religion, so it cannot act on the basis of the essential element of intelligently conditioning economic help on counseling and individual reformation. This is what is wrong with all of this in our government. There is no morality involved in it, but essentially the obligation is supposed to be a moral obligation (you have to give), but there is no moral obligation on the persons receiving the financial help.
Before we judge so harshly this pragmatism in Latin culture, we should look at what has happened in the black culture in the United States over the past 50 years. Anything and everything is being justified because of the suffering of the blacks. There is not a single black American that was a slave in the old South, still living. The ancestors of these people suffered, but America has opened so much to the black community that it is unjustified to say that they are oppressed anymore. American TV has probably a 50% black actors out there, and the blacks are not 50% of our population. (The Hispanics are far less represented in actors if you gauge it by percentage of the population.)
But the mentality of giving money, opportunity, and privilege to the blacks, because they were oppressed or slightly or mistreated, is the same base mentality as this Latin American pragmatism. I suffered so, therefore, I can circumvent the laws that are for everybody. Even Hillary Clinton used this justification, that because she is a woman and women are mistreated (like the Hillary Clinton organization paying women less than men for the same job), therefore she has a right and obligation to be president. How does that figure unless being oppressed gets you privilege? That is not so. God allows all mankind to be oppressed, but that does not shake as far as a reason for throwing off morality.
Within the black culture, there is a gangster culture that was born, basically with the moral undergirding of this “I was mistreated, so, therefore, I can break any laws and get special treatment because of that”. If everybody is equal before the law, why are some being given privileges while others are not? The issue is not what color you are will determine your privilege or non-privilege (at first white were given the privilege, so now to balance things blacks have to be given privileges). Blacks should get the very same privileges as whites and Hispanics, etc. The only ones that should not get any privileges are those that break the laws of the system. They should lose their privileges because of their refusal to accept and abide by the system itself.
The idea of doing what I want because somehow morality (for me) is determined by what is going to give me privilege best and fast and most is wrong. God will judge all men, and bring every work into His judgment. What we do should be governed and controlled and modeled by what God likes or dislikes. This is the only rule of law we can admit, and it has to be the rule of law in our personal life and in our country’s government and laws. I don’t do what is practical for me. I do what pleases God.