Living in one country and working in another allows me the opportunity to study two cultures up close in several different ways.  People raised in Mexico view and handle things differently than they do in the United States. The social fabric south of The Wall of Shame is not the same as that which exists to the north. 
There is a stress level in the USA that I don't feel when I'm in Mexico. Americans these days are so involved in the rat race that they can't stop and smell the roses. I wash dishes all night long in Pacific Beach but in the morning I go downtown. I post up at the civic center or walk around that general area. I keep my mouth shut and my ears open. What I hear is misery. A lot of complaining, whining and a general feeling of frustration.
There are two main groups downtown during the day. Those commuting to work from outside the area and the unemployed transients, who call the concrete monoliths to misguided power, home. Many of the area's workers have gained a sort of cockiness since the collapse of the Occupy movement in San Diego. The movement had instilled a feeling of hope and self worth in the homeless that those in power felt threatened by (But that's another story). It definitely adds to the uneasy tension that already exists between the two groups.
In the USA these days and the world in general, regular folks have it pretty tough. In my fifty years of living on this violent orb that is our mother ship I have never seen it so bad. All the more reason why the real leaders of our society and not the career politicians should step up. But I don't see it happening.
Mexican folks on the other hand have little faith whatsoever in their politicians(Unless they benefit directly).  They don't rely on them nearly as much to solve society's problems. Neighborhoods excel at a local level because of grass roots organizations and sound community leaders. It should be the same in the USA. Once upon a time I think it was. 
I'm not trying to say that one culture is superior to another. What I'm trying to say is we all have something to share. Be it an individual or a nation. But if you think you're superior to that individual or nation you're gonna miss out on a thing or two. 
As a history major I know that all great empires crumble. As a dishwasher I know that one man can't do much to change the world. As a human being, a father and grandfather, I know that I will never stop trying. It's why I write. 
                                           "Coffee's Ready, Gotta Go...!!!"

Comments

Mindy Ross April 12, 2012 @ 2:59 p.m.

I agree with everything you say. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, often talks about calm assertive energy and balance. I found that kind of harmony when volunteering at the animal shelter for 12 years. I recently blogged about my dryer that broke down and how I feel a sense of peace folding clothes with the Mexican women in Escondido. They have a smilar sense of balance that most Americans do not have. Most of my family members live in Rancho Bernardo, an affluent town in San Diego. Most Mexicans with hardly a dime to their names wouldn't believe the chaose that goes on in a community where people have everything. Men cheat on their wives, abandon their families, mothers get drunk and don't take care of their kids. My own family is so messed up, I never visit them unless someone dies and then maybe I'll attend the memorial service (if I'm up to it). My mothe is a narcissist who worships Estee Lauder and thinks she's in crisis if her bath towels don't match. Her father graduated from Harvard, his father was a reverend and a lawyer, and yet my grandfather used to beat my grandmother until she was unconscience right in front of the kids.

My own dad was abusive. I was handed all of the money I wanted and never had to work. He would have been completely happy if I'd lived at home and never worked. Other kids thought I had it made, but they couldn't see that it was a trap. He was using his wealth to control me.

I was astounded when I saw "Irreconcilable Differences" starring Drew Barrymore a few years ago. That was how I and many others lived as kids. The parents fight, earn money and pawn the kids off on the illegal housekeeper. I have been married to two Mexicans and I think its largely do to some kind of attachment I got from them. It was really the only nurturing I ever had.

I've been trying to find Chuy and Para in Santa Ana where they last lived. No luck. They could be dead (they did eat a lot of lard), or who knows? Their names are common and it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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JohnERangel April 15, 2012 @ 8:49 a.m.

I believe it is true, that adversity can often fuel creativity in artistic souls. An immediate example that comes to mind are the paintings of Frida Kahlo. Her works continue to give me strength. Keep the faith. Thank you for your comments.

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Tallsharon April 14, 2012 @ 8:45 p.m.

Your story gave me lots of memories of my visits to baja in my younger days, and the stress you describe hit me hard when I returned from five years in Australia back in the mid 90s. I felt like I was going to die if I didn't get out of here. Everyone was so angry and so impatient. It really struck me after being away.

I walked into AAA to sign up for roadside assistance. I saw a sign that said information and headed right for it. I never saw the line of people on my right. As I approached the desk, several people started yelling at me, almost causing me to cry I felt so bad. It was a hot day, and the line was long. It was awful. I wanted to go back to Oz, and get the heck outa here. Ah if life were that simple.

I chat with many of the street people on my way to and from work. One is turning 66 next week, and lives on the streets, but always goes out of his way to say howdy to me. Another is an artist, and a musician, and we sometimes pass each other at both ends of the day.

I can't pretend I know what it is like to live on minimum wage, or to have to cross the border every day to get to work. I know I could do it, but not voluntarily. I've been blessed with a family, an education and an adventurous spirit.

Enough of this rambling. Anyway, enjoyed your story

Now I get angry, must be something in the air. That's why I travel- need to air my head out in a place where people are grateful for simple things, where a community is truly a community.

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JohnERangel April 15, 2012 @ 8:56 a.m.

Hey! You just 'worded' what I was trying to say better than I did. Awesome, I love it. Thank you for connecting to the story so well.

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Tallsharon April 15, 2012 @ 9:45 a.m.

the neighborhood bloggers are a very supportive community of people that see the world as it is, at the moment it is. authenticity is the baseline. most of the time keeps me on task!

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