September 16 (Friday) is the day when Mexicans celebrate the beginning of the Mexican War of independence (1810). With a cry, or grito, uttered from the region of Guanajuato and the ringing of the church bells, the war commenced, and the oppressed Mexican people fought the Spanish colonists. A decade of war later, Mexico gained her independence.
But despite a formal independence from the Spanish crown, Mexico does not enjoy independence today. Her people live in bondage—bondage to poverty, bondage to corruption, bondage to extortion, genocide, gang warfare, murderous machismo, and the whims of the über powerful drug cartels.
Mexico is engaged in a war now—the war that President Felipe Calderon declared on drugs almost five years ago. The casualty toll nears 40,000. Will it be a decade of war before Mexico claims her independence from this plague?
Though Mexico is technically an independent nation, she does not know freedom. When you can’t leave your home for fear of being shot, when you can’t speak the truth in the press, when you have no police protection, no justice system, and no government that you can trust, when your basic human rights are denied you, when your sister nation claims to help you and then sends down the weapons that will be used to manipulate, exploit and kill you, then I would say “Independence Day” is little more than a charade—an excuse for a picnic with a few tamales, a six-pack of Tezcate, and the chance to forget—for a few hours—that independence means nothing to you.
In the (maybe legendary) words of Hidalgo as he let out the grito: “My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves?”
He also finished off with this clause, interestingly, and perhaps prophetically: “Death to bad government!”
What Mexico needs is some more bell-ringers—brave and loud individuals like Javier Sicilia and his posse. (click HERE to read my article on Sicilia). These Mexicans have taken up the charge. But we need bell-ringers on this side of the Rio as well. This is not just a Mexican problem, or a border problem—it is a human problem. People are people and sin is sin. Happenstance geography has nothing to do with it.
I’ll conclude with a few provocative words from Sicilia:
“Albert Camus spoke a terrible truth. ‘I know something worse than hate: abstract love.’ In the name of abstract love, in the name of God and Country, in the name of saving the youth from the drug, in the name of the proletariat, in the name of abstractions, our politicians and war policy makers have committed the most atrocious crimes on human beings, who are not abstractions, who are bones and flesh. That is what our country is living and suffering today: in the name of an abstract goodness, we are suffering the opposite: the horror of war and violence, of innocents dead, disappeared, and mutilated.
Internet news sites have put out their own guides to celebrating Mexican Independence Day—your typical list of suggested banal, pseudo-cultural activities like parades and taco bars. Mexico needs genuine love in the form of prayers, workers, and people who are committed to caring about a very grave situation. Help others know the freedom you know.
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