Wednesday, September 17, 2008

our grito

I do not like writing about other people's tragedies. I do not even like being around grief.

And I think I know why. I was raised in a religious tradition where comfort to the grieving and service to the needy was an act of showing God's love. But, just as often, I was a witness to what I have dubbed "grief vampires." They are the people who show up at every funeral or hospital bed seeming almost to live off of the grief of others. There is no comfort. No solace. Merely feeding on the black bread of the morose.

That is why I am reluctant to write on the terrorist tragedy that happened on Monday night in Morelia. A day of national celebration shrouded by the terror that has become so familiar during the last 50 years. Belfast. Beirut. Baghdad. And now -- Morelia.

I do not live in Mexico, but I will. And once I finish my trial run in Melaque, I intend to head to the hills around Morelia. So, in a way, I could feel the joy stripped away when I read
Jennifer Rose's commentary on this inexcusable act of terror.

I felt sad. I felt stunned. I felt angry.

But, more than anything else, I realized that Mexico is truly at a tipping point in its attempt to bring the drug lords under control. One side is going to prevail. A long term solution is for the United States to legalize drugs and stop this incidental violence in neighboring countries. But that is the long term.

In the short term, this Mexican government must do what its many predecessors failed to do: take back the country from the drug lords and their corrupt local allies. And that will not happen as long as both groups are protected by their neighbors. And this act of stupidity and inhumanity on the part of the narcos may show how the drug lords have no regard for the common people of Mexico. They are no better than any of the other elites who have oppressed the poor.

As I watched the emergency teams tend to the wounded and recover the dead, I was reminded of another speech given under similar circumstances:

Terror is not a legitimate system of persuasion. And to those who commit the
atrocities I say, we will no longer tolerate, we will no longer negotiate, and
we will no longer be afraid.

It's your turn to be afraid.

Jennifer is on the front lines of this battle. She has been brave enough to stand up, as a Mexican citizen, to say enough is enough. I hope to be able to do the same when I head south. This incident is not scaring me off. It is driving me to Mexico.

It's their turn to be afraid.


islagringo said...

I think what is horrific and significant about this act of terrorism is that it specifically targeted innocent bystanders. Up to know (as far as I know) all the atrocities have been between competing gangs or cartels. This has opened a new door and you are right....we should all be afraid.

When you get here, since you will be a visitor and guest in this country, I would strongly suggest you keep your butt in your chair and your mouth shut. We have no say down here and can get into serious trouble if we try to have one.

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- I strongly disagree about sitting down and keeping quiet. This month brave Mexicans marched in the street asking for something to be done about crime. Rather than make that a hollow gesture, we need to stand beside our Mexican neighbors who are brave enough to stand up against this type of terror. The terror in Northern Ireland did not end until neighbors stopped hiding the terrorists in their midst. I, for one, am going to do everything I can to make the terrorists afraid. I am tired of Jews dying in concentration camps and children being blown up by bombs -- and no one saying anything. Maybe I am naive. But this has to stop.

jennifer rose said...

Steve, listen to Islagringo. And acquaint yourself with Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution. You would be surprised what could be construed as exercising political influence, because the authorities make that mean whatever fits their purpose. The goodness of your intentions just doesn't matter when it comes to the application of Art. 33.

As long as you're a foreigner in Mexico, you'll face certain restrictions upon what you can and can't do.

glorv1 said...

I can only pray for the people there who were killed and/or hurt, as I do for the tragedies that we have here. Good luck Steve.

Steve Cotton said...

Jennifer -- I know. I know. Both you and Wayne are legally correct -- anfd there are good historical reasons for Article 33. I know them too well. And my intentions would undoubtedly be construed to fall within the prohibition. I am still morally indignant about this. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks to you as well, Wayne.

Gloria -- Such pain.

Brenda said...

In the face of such tragedy it is hard to stay silent; but if you intend to stay in this country and not end up with a fast ticket back stateside, this is what you must do. If you don't think you can do this; perhaps you need to do some serious thinking. Sad fact; but true, those of us down here all face the same consequences. Powerless to do anything even talk about it publicly.

Steve Cotton said...

Brenda -- Like Jennifer and Wayne, you are far wiser on conduct in Mexico. And I will have to watch what I say and do. My first reaction to most situations is -- to react. All I need to do is think about some of Wayne's innocently-intended comments to remember what can happen.