Friday, September 26, 2008

Horror. Selfish

I've spent the last ten days without paying attention to the news. Almost any kind of news. I am a journalist, yes. I am. But I'm spending one year in this bubble called Stanford University and, here, reality is a place so distant it is hard to believe. Of course everyone here is super smart and everyone here is doing some thoughtful, brilliant, innovative research on any of one of zillion problems we as humans are facing as one race. But nothing happens here. Problem wise, conflict wise. We're safe here, thinking, reading on how to save the world while the world out there is falling out in tiny little pieces.

From time to time I keep an ear on the gossip side of news. El chisme siempre es el chisme. And today my fellow fellows and I are getting ready for tonight's debate between Obama and McCain. And we all chit-chat about this interview Katie Couric made to Sarah Palin, and this other blog post this super-clever girl wrote on Palin (who else?) in the New York Times, and oh, yes, every morning, while I drive my kids to school, I get goosebumps while listening to the news of the foreclosure crisis in Wall Street on NPR. U.S. business is bad these days, I mean, b.a.d. Del carajo.

Yeah, Palin. For a change.

But those eight people dead last week in Morelia are not in the news I'm consuming these days. They're not part of the conversations I run into every day. In the reality I live in, they don't exist. And I might not go too far if I say this is the reality I've chosen to live in.

This morning I had the chance to read El Universal. Read that the attackers warned the authorities fifteen days before the attack. Read that the Governor of Michoacan, Leonel Godoy, downplayed that fact, stating that the threats made only reference to the Militar parade on September 16th., but did not mention anything regarding the previous night, la noche del Grito, the actual moment of the attack.

Nothing new for me. But I also read this piece written by the Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, where he shares his sorrow for not being there, in Mexico, while his family and friends have to cope with the surge of violence that's engulfing his/my country. He almost feels guilty for having the privilege of being afar, violence free.

Yeah, I felt the same way... ten years ago. Every time I would come back to my preppy house in Lomas de Tecamachalco after spending days in some jodido place in rural Mexico reporting and writing stories on how this ludicrous gap between the rich and the poor in Mexico would generate desperation and helplessness in so many people, I would feel guilty as hell. It was crystal clear the unfairness of everything for me back then. It is crystal clear even today. But I grew tired of living in that status quo every day. I packed my stuff, took my chamacos by the hand, my mujer, and we headed West --just like the Okies would do in the thirties, as portrayed by Steinbeck in the Grapes of Wrath, dreaming of a place full of life and opportunities to better the lot in California this time around.

I feel the pain. Oh, yes. I do. But I know it would be even more painful if I'd still live there. 'Cause either that, the community where all this horror is taking place, is helpless to undo, hand in hand, this path to hell, or myself, unable to overcome my fear, my frustration. Or my selfishness.

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