25 August 2010

Words, Past And Present

Let Me run this by you: I have found it necessary, when discussing past and present affairs, to point out in the strongest possible terms the general inability of the majority of this nation for self-government, and unfortunately, that the number of folks that are intelligent, educated and responsible enough (to carry out self-government) is too small when compared to the dumb and irresponsible.

Harsh, yes. Maybe a little over the top. But tell Me, My Brethren, if those words don't have more than a modicum of truth in them? Can you really say that We are capable of self-government, given that, since the Autonomy Charter of 1898, every time We have been faced with the challenge of requesting, demanding or negotiating for true self-government We have either punked out, screwed up or thrown away the chances through inaction, idiocy, incompetence or irresponsibility?

Even if you agree with the words above to a 100% degree, you'd still feel a little corner of regret for acknowledging that We, as a people, have failed to step up in Our favor in so fundamental a role as this. I know do...and I wonder what Brigadier General George Davis would say if he saw Puerto Rico now, some 111 years after he wrote the words above.

General Davis was the last military governor of the Island and wrote his opinion (slightly paraphrased) of the possibility of Puerto Rican self-government in a letter to his Washington superiors in 1899. That a lot of his off-the-cuff, paternalistic and even racist observations ring true over a century later is not his problem: it's definitely Ours.

Now some more words, about people We don't know: "Many of the neediest cases did not accept direct help because they considered it charity...that affected their dignity. This stance was so prevalent that even when they were classified as cases of extreme need, they preferred to go hungry and do without before accepting purchase permits for food. The ideal solution for the problem was the idea of an exchange--a food purchase permit in exchange for a day of work--for this preserved the admirable instinct of self-esteem..."

Of course, if now I ask you "What people are We talking about?" you'll say "Us" (as in "Puerto Ricans"), but let Me ask this instead: When was this written? There, think about that for a minute...

That quote came from the Puerto Rican Emergency Relief Administration (PRERA) Annual Report of 1935.

That's why I say We don't know these people anymore: those of the iron-willed dignity to make their own way in the world, to eschew charity in favor of fair exchange, to deny themselves the easy handout despite incredible hardships, those that We can look up to as a stronger breed of Us, they are either dead or dying out daily. They are certainly not Us, not Us of the fawning sycophancy to Uncle Sam's checkbook, not Us for whom a day's pay for a dishonest half-day's work is dumber than a day's pay for no work, not Us for whom pride, dignity and integrity are words that best apply to somebody else that We scoff at for not having as much ill-gotten gains as We.

Yes, harsh. Painful, too. The same folks that Gen. Davis thought incapable of self-government had a core of self-esteem We seemed to have lost. Instead of growing, We have become smaller, instead of gaining moral values along with material goods We apparently have tossed the former out to better grab at the latter. And then We wonder why We have the government We have, the corruption We fester with and the backsliding capacity for progress that keeps Us running, not in the same place, but backwards.

Words from the past, that haunt Our present and point towards a dark, sad future.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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