04 July 2008

Independence (Some?)Day

Happy Birthday, Don!

Independence Day. Celebrated here with a big "hee-haw" of holiday effervescence, but mention "independence" to the average Puerto Rican and watch a dodo appear. For in this land of oft-jingoistic ¡Yo soy boricua! vociferousness, the thought of actually being boricua without the aegis of Uncle Sam turns a ranting rouser into a panting poser.

Think "14-year old boy" and you'll get the picture.

Oh yeah, We can celebrate the Independence Day of Uncle Moneybucks because We get the day off, but ask Us to actually work on Our own independence--as a nation--and the "lesiure time" mentality rears its ugly head. Then again, there are other factors involved:

--Historical: Due to Our island's size and distance from gold mines and shipping routes, We were largely ignored by the Spanish overlords. Our only tactic was to cry "Wolf!"--actually, "Pirates!"--and thus get some pesetas. Victim mentality and learned helplessness, anyone? But that was 500 years ago, and to continue to think that We are "too small" and "too helpless" to help Ourselves is tantamount to stupidity.

--Speaking of stupidity, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño is a prime example of style over substance, a party more concerned with ideological idiocies along the lines of "Supporting Castro," "Fostering Socialism," "Lionizing criminals," "Worshipping the feeble past" and "Pursuing the free electoral monies every four years" instead of answering the basic practical questions around "How do We grow up as a nation?" Exactly like a 14-yeard old, the PIP wanted gain with no pain, shying away from the unadorned and unavoidable fact that growing up is never easy. You take the plunge, navigate the difficult times and with determination, vision and energy, you overcome and succeed. All the PIP is good for now is to occasionally stir its carcass for a handout.

--Uncle Sam himself doesn't give a rodent's lower colon about Puerto Rico, except where money is concerned. The century-long tactic of "You decide and tell Us what you'd like to do" has served the gaunt geezer quite well, for We--as 14-year old boys--can't make up Our minds. We're caught between wanting to be The Man (with all the responsibilities and duties thereof) and the sense that "Without what I'm given, I'm nobody." So We rush about, all energy and verve, Our head full of fantasies and envy, wishes and doubts, accepting what We're given with resentment-laced glee and think only for the now, for after all, tomorrow is someone else's concern, right?

So while We're chugging Our beers, roasting hot dogs on a grill while the radio and TV blare their cacophony and invading Our beaches with a surfeit of trash, while We celebrate some other country's independence, how about We take a moment and acknowledge that Our independence is the corpse in the corner, the one We have buried so badly it raises a stink that--sadly--few of Us can perceive?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Gil,
I like your candor. Puerto Rico suffers from the dissonance that so many colonialized people suffer from. The magic-change-revolution comes when people actually commit to an idea and that hasn't really happened yet. Puerto Rico will get support from surprising quarters if they could get a consensus and commit! I realize that it is difficult living so close and in the shadow of the U.S. and the spectre of growing pains is not pretty. I am in El Barrio, New York and I know first hand that the issue of independence is complex. By standing firm -one way or the other- and being resolute, support, respect and alliances will happen.
Thanks for your blog.