03 July 2009

The Puerto Rican Dream

Belated Notice of Thanks to Rebecca MacKinnon, who selected the last few of My posts that appeared on Global Voices Online. Ms. MacKinnon is one of the co-founders of GVO. Yes, I know it took Me a while to notice all this, but you know I'm just a Jenius...

What is The Puerto Rican Dream?

No, seriously. What is The Puerto Rican Dream? In 150 words or more, We can try to define The American Dream, and though there might be some debate on what it actually is, there is no debate on whether there is one or not.

For example, The American Dream can be seen as "rags to riches," "opportunity awaits for those who go after it," "everybody equal" or "hard work trumping class distinctions." There's a "can-do" spirit to The American Dream, a sense of hope and a bright future. Pundits use it as shorthand for what makes America great (referring only to the U.S. part of it all) and demagogues use it to lambast the opposition (as in "ruining The American Dream.")

So there is one. Japan has one, too, centered on self-reliance and resiliency, on coming together to overcome any adversity, the deep-seated knowledge that their will can outlast and ultimately triumph over any obstacle.

But what--pray tell--is the Puerto Rican Dream? What myth, mythos, conceptual image, word portrait, shared concept do We have that underlies if not supports Our cultural expressions?

I was born here. Spent half My childhood and most of My adulthood here. My Son was born here. Almost all My relatives were born and raised here. I have worked with thousands of people, read thousands of Our pages, experienced thousands of encounters, lived thousands of hours on this green patch of the Caribbean and for the Life of Me I can't describe The Puerto Rican Dream.

Cynically, many of Us would say The Puerto Rican Dream is to become the 51st State. That's not a dream: that's a surrender. Other cynics would say that the dream is to get more U.S. dinero in exchange for nothing. That's thievery or beggary, both of which We are guilty of. No, those aren't dreams, those are cop outs, the barking of dogs instead of the bracing thoughts of higher primates.

When things get tough, the Dream is what unites, what keeps an individual and a group moving forward. Despite the fact that I--amongs others--see The American Dream now as someone being so pathetic a TV producer makes them over for ratings gold, there is a long history of elements of that Dream coming forth in times of crisis to encourage, support and guide. Think World War II and the lunar landing program, examples of the U.S. of part of A. saying, in effect, "Yes We can."

Catchy phrase, that.

Are there similar examples for Puerto Rico? An example? When a crisis comes, when times get tough and the future looks dim and gray, what do We do? What is Our dream?


We dream of being rescued. By someone, somewhere, out there. No "Yes We can," but "Who can?" No "Let's go", but "Let's wait." No "It's up to Us," but "It's up to the U.S." Or somebody.

Our dream is not that of the cowboy or the samurai or the honorable knight, the proactive heroic figure battling alarming obstacles to set the world aright. No. We are, in Our dreams, the princess waiting to be rescued...by the hero.

Some of My brethren from Our Island will argue against My claim. They might say I'm a traitor, a vende patria or a total idiot for saying such a thing. Okay, they're perfectly entitled to being wrong about that, too. Because here's My challenge: Show Me We aren't the princess. Show Me We aren't the passive want-it-alls who can't--or won't--lift a finger to save Ourselves. Go ahead, try to show Me Our dream isn't "Save Me," that it is, instead, "Saving Ourselves."

Go ahead. Try. It isn't a dream, what We have, but a nightmarish willingness to sleep until the danger is taken care of...by the hero from somewhere out there.

The Jenius Has Spoken. 


test said...

Great post! I don't share your point of view on some issues but excellent post nonetheless. Your claims as Puerto Rico's best blog is not that far off, keep up the good work.

GCSchmidt said...

"...not that far off..."?!?!

Wait a minute. Hold on. I have to lie down for a moment...

Okay, I can wrap My mind around that. Thank you. I hope I make it past--shudder--"not that far off".

Someone like you said...


I have nothing but admiration for your work. I may hate the truth but I can't deny it.

So sad that you can't comeback to something in the comments section saying "Yep, those are my readers!" So sad that puertorricans barely know what blogs are. A blog? In English? Certainly not for the puertorrican masses.

GCSchmidt said...

Actually, I could say "Yep, those are My readers," but I'm afraid The Sports Guy would haul Me up in front of Blogger's Court and remove My Google AdWord privileges...

Thanks for dropping by. I wish it had been with something more positive on My side, but such is life.

Skai said...

Peace Gil -

I am a non-puertorican recently moved here from the states. I am from our fabulous neighbors to the east - the virgin islands...So similar the problems. Unfortunately, PR has 4 mil people here, the VI has 100,000 amoungst 3 islands...big difference

Everything you write of, IMHO, is exactly on point. I find the government and "most of" the population big on assuming folks are stupid and dont think.

The other day I went to the hospital here and had to retrieve a parking ticket to get into the emergency room parking lot. When we left, I told the ticket teller, I had no cash, and presented her with my Visa for the $3 parking fee. She said they dont take cards, I HAVE to pay in cash.....

Long story short....By the time I finished arguing my point and she let me go, it dawned on me that I am being charged to go into the emergency room where anyone can enter regardless if they have money or not, or insurance or not. Ironic! No, they (here) just dont think people will think at all.

I am a fan!

GCSchmidt said...

Thank you, Skai. Hope your time on My Island is less hectic than the parking situation...

KW said...

I'll see your "I'm a princess, rescue me" and raise you a "I'll do whatever it takes to make others believe that I am (collectively, we are) no longer poor."

Which is kind of hard to defend (comprehend) in light of news like: http://www.elnuevodia.com/XStatic/endi/template/content.aspx?se=nota&id=597721. Three times higher!!!