16 August 2008

How Does Puerto Rico Justify Its Existence?

Imagine that Puerto Rico is suddenly transported to a Galactic version of The Black Widowers Club and was asked the traditional first question: How do you justify your existence?

(By the way, even if you're not a fan of science fiction, you'll find these Isaac Asimov stories to be a real treat, combining wit, drama and insight in equal proportions.)

When confronted with this question (go ahead: ask it to yourself and try to come up with an answer) most people (in the stories, especially) tend to shrug and say something quickly. After all, We never really think about this question, strolling through Life with the unexamined belief that Our mere existence is direct proof that We are justified to be here. In other words, the circular argument is "I exist, therefor I am proof that I am worthy of existing."

For another angle, We tend to not think about this or any related existential question because it forces Us to think, and then beyond that, to reason.  And if push comes to shove, We might ponder who or what is in the position of having Us justify Our existence, a whole 'nother can of philosphical worms. So We just don't go there.


The question is placed before Us, on some Galactic, Philosophical or Hegelian stage: How does Puerto Rico justify its existence? 

The obvious array of answers are related to culture, as in Our unique heritage and blend of European, African and Taíno infuences to develop individual and societal expressions (music, language, art, literature, mores, etc.) that identify Us as being different. In short, We are boricuas and recognizably so.

But that doesn't really answer the question, for it is merely a complicated version of "I exist, therefore I am justified." To justify Our existence would require a reason for Our existence, not just the fact that We do exist. And to find a reason for Our existence means to analyze what impact and effect We have on the world, in essence, to evaluate what and how much contribution We make to the world.

Can there be any other basis, for an individual or society, to determine a way to justify their existence beyond near-sophistry? To justify requires reasonable proof, and the most reasonable proof is what's most tangible. And in the seach for that reasonable, tangible proof, We do more than justify Our existence: We measure it.

We live with the perception that We are both too small and the Center of the Universe. That We are not globally competitive, but kick ass because We're boricuas. We flit maniacally between "We can't" and "WE ROCK!", fisting Our food stamps in the air as We jump for joy over some local beauty queen or boxer. We don't know who We are, but We act like We do, for We haven't taken the time to really look at Ourselves and Our place in the world.

"The unexamined life is not worth living." With a nonchalant apology to Socrates, We as Puerto Rican are living an unexamined life, and at the risk of posing a circular argument Myself, because We are living it means We must go on...to change it. Examining, weighing, measuring Our impact and contribution to the world is Our clearest path to progress: True, deeply-rooted, essentially boricua progress.

We think the Galactic "first question" is hypothetical, or actually, non-existent. That's where We've been wrong.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Anonymous said...

That comment with the food stamps was hilarious. On more than one level.

GCSchmidt said...

You're welcome! I like it, too.