Real life in beautiful and ugly Guadalajara.
categories: political philosophy, rants
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Who can find me one nation on this planet with a completely uncorrupted law enforcement system?  If you’re one of the thirty or so people worldwide that find this site during any given week.. and read it, bless your heart.. don’t go scrounging.. it’s just a rhetorical question.

From abroad, Mexico is often considered to be one of the most violent and unstable nations in terms of security for it’s citizens to live their day to day lives without fear of being attacked, extorted, or robbed… or even sideswiped by some buttbreath for brains deliberately running a red light.   All of these things do happen on a daily basis here.  I’ve had my truck broken into on a couple of occasions, and almost everyone I know has been robbed or mugged at one point or another.   But as are most cases with fear of the unknown, it’s far less dangerous on the inside than it looks from the outside (there’s a delightful post regarding this at midwesternerinmexico.com).  That doesn’t mean, however, that law enforcement here is not a tragic farce… because it’s nothing more than exactly that, at best. 

The word ‘farce’ here is not meant in a Reno 911 kind of way.  It’s meant to point out that the only clout that law enforcement here possesses is the exercise of its ability to make honest people feel like they’re the biggest dummies on the playing field.  In other words, the more unscrupulous you become, the less of a threat to you the law seems to be.  Among all of the common things that contribute to instability in any country, this is what I put (mistakenly or not) at the top of Mexico’s list of factors.  Not a grounbreaking assessment by any stretch.

I’ve been here long enough to see that Mexico is nowhere near the brink… yet.  But rather than that being due to any existence of law enforcement, it’s far more the result of the grand majority of its citizens simply wanting to make it from one day to the next and pursue their endeavors with a genuine smile on their face -and more importantly, not to mention reciprocally- respecting the desires of the others to do the same.  Why is it then, that some people just can’t manage that?

 

RIGHT...  YOU  TELL EM,  HANDS...

RIGHT... YOU TELL 'EM, HANDS...

 

Why would people steal from you?

One – they want what you have.  Two – they don’t want to deal with their conscience, and thus have ridden themselves of it, a move facilitated all the more by number Three – they calculate a very low to nonexistent risk of what they consider adverse consequences for their actions (maybe if faced with the threat of those three hands above, it would all be different).

While all three of these explain the “why”, it’s the third one that’s usually the clincher.  It’s so damn easy to take from people who’ll do anything not to get hurt, or killed, except show that they’re willing to defend themselves or at least inflict dire consequences upon the perpetrator.  It’s a simple fact that’s as old as history.

Since the beginning of mankind (I’m pretty old now, so you can trust me on this), people have been suffering because others constantly twist human nature into forms that benefit only themselves, or so they estimate.  You have a house.  I want it.  I’m stronger than you.  You therefore will give it to me.  If you don’t, I’m going to take it anyway and you’re going to suffer and perhaps die.  You don’t want to die, and I don’t care what you do want.  The house is mine now.

Change the house to a watch, a laptop, a purse, a car, someone’s land, your own body… show me once in history – once – where this hasn’t been happening to people.  Is there any one of us who has never in life at least advocated it under one circumstance or another?

Our interest in being lawful, ethical and respectful only goes as far as the consequences for not being so dictate.

Forget killing for a moment.  If in your town you discovered that a shopping mall had been abandonded by all of the store owners and administrators for well over a month, including an unlocked door to get in… would you not be at least tempted?  I sure as hell would.  It’s a question of consequences, isn’t it?  Of course there’s a moral conscience to contend with.  But at he base of our human nature lies one of many disconcerting factors – the lesser the personal consequences we face for offending others (in whatever way) in route of obtaining or achieving what we want, the peskier and more annoying our conscience becomes.  It becomes an obstacle, either to get around or to destroy.  “Who cares that it’s not mine, I want it.  I deserve to have it, and if these people are too stupid or weak to safeguard their merchandise, then they deserve to lose it…”

It’s funny how those who have the strength to look their own conscience in the eye and come to terms with it are so often seen as weak by others who don’t have the balls to do the same.  And so the latter become a problem for everyone.  Until they’re somehow forced to deal with their own conscience – like mashing a dog’s face into its own excrement after it shits all over  your brand new carpet - the honest people around them will become less and less secure.  And who do you suppose will take care of that?  Thanks for nothin’, gutless, underpaid, unprincipled law enforcement.  Well… there’s always the ancient state of nature to fall back on… and friend, let me tell you, if it gets that far, violence sure as hell better be one of your options.

I asked a man the other day what he would do if he were at a bus stop, and some guy or a couple of guys with knives threatened another person only a few meters away for their wallet, or whatever.  He said he’d do nothing, and that he hoped the victim would hand it over to the perpetrators… “A wallet is not worth dying for”, he said, “I don’t care what or how much is in it.”  After the shortest of pauses, as if I were contemplating for the first time these cheap though woefully comforting words of wisdom, I replied “Ok, whatever.. fair enough… but why is it that only you and me, and hopefully the victim, understand that a wallet is not worth dying for… and the perpetrators don’t?”  His response:  “What they understand or don’t understand is not my concern.. I’ve got a family to think about.”

Well, not much arguing with that… so why I  persisted, in retrospect I really don’t know… boredom perhaps.. I said, “Ok then… but with an attitude like that let’s hope the United States doesn’t decide on a whim one of these days to help itself to another sizable chunk of Mexican territory.”

That’s what you call ‘crossing the line’, I guess.  Well hey, the positive thing is that at least he drew a line at some point.

I’m sure the conversation would have ended on a more peaceful note had I just stuck a knife to his neck and demanded his wallet.

1 comment

January 21st, 2010

Great piece! I’ve been puzzled for a long time about the almost universal attitude of acquiescence down here. I mean, after all, these people picked up their axes and pitchforks, and won their independence! How can a people lose that desire for freedom so quickly? And freedom is what we’re talking about, because they aren’t free from fear… of their neighbor, the narcos, the police… even their own government.

Good blog! I’ll be back!

Doc

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