Embarrassment as the common denominator
The year 2018 will go into history as a tough year, a horrible year. However, we still have the month of December left, one more month to be further buffeted by new catastrophes. After all, 31 days constitute a chunk of time.
I have to confess that I am not talking in the abstract, about embarrassing things one hears about. I am talking about being embarrassed by events that are happening in multiple places and that touch one personally.
I had announced that I would not write anymore, but I just cannot hold myself back. I cannot keep silent. (Silence is acquiescence, isn’t it?)
I will share with you what it is that embarrasses me and the pain that goes with it. I hate to subject you to the ills of the moment, but these are awful moments. I am not sure that sharing them with you make them less painful, but somehow talking about them is quite liberating.
My first embarrassment is about the country where I was born. What happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina in mid-November is so pathetic, so humiliating, so embarrassing.
Argentina, like Brazil, is soccer crazy. A famous tournament (Copa Libertadores) was coming to an end, pitting two teams that have large followings: Boca Juniors and River Plate.
This was unique in that the tournament was played by two teams from the same country, and it was being played in Argentina where the two teams reside. Sundays are traditionally soccer days, just as here we have Monday football, but this match was scheduled for a Saturday afternoon. The expectations for the match were great and the soccer world was waiting for what had been billed as the game of all games.
So, the world waits for the game to start, it waits and, waits. The River stadium was packed to the gills. Finally, the world’s audience, together with the fans in the stadium, learn that the match is suspended because the bus bringing Boca’s team has been attacked by River fans. The bus was pelleted with rocks and other objects. The police pretty much did nothing except throw tear gas that, among other things, injured the bus driver.
I am watching in Taos, and the embarrassment and shame are increasing as time passes on. The match was postponed to the next day, a Sunday. The Sunday comes and still no match. In the meantime, I learn that there has been some looting attached to Saturday’s events. My sense of embarrassment grows exponentially.
Although Argentina has never been a truly developed nation, neither was it one of hooliganism. Argentina’s position in history has generally been as a totalitarian, militaristic, nazi, fascist society, but soccer was pretty untouchable. This is also a country that a couple of weeks later was to host a G20 meeting, where world leaders will feast on banquets while millions of children in Yemen are dying because of a war supported by Saudi Arabia (present in the G20 meeting).
My second embarrassment, however, is caused by where I chose to live. The America of limitless opportunity, the America of protective laws, America the beautiful. My second embarrassment is almost harder to take since I chose to become American. We live in a moment when we are governed by Twitter, when the prized independence of the three branches of government is seriously jeopardized, a moment when the rest of the world does not take us seriously. Argentina and the United States appear to share many characteristics of not even the Third World, but the fifth one and that, friends, hurts.
I know, most people tell me to get over it, that things will change (maybe for the better?), but until then, the pain and the embarrassment are too great. I hope that if I write at the end of 2019, it will all be better. Maybe there are forces in the cosmos that will take pity on us, both the developing and developed worlds.
The River stadium was packed to the gills. Finally the world’s audience, together with the fans in the stadium, learn that the match is suspended because the bus bringing Boca’s team has been attacked by River fans.