I sit here in a mall waiting for my car to be fixed. It is by far one of the nicest malls I’ve ever seen. I’m reading a book about Mexican culture, history, and politics and a dominating question throughout has been, “What does it mean to be Mexican?” It is a simple question with a complex answer or at least the 700+ pages of the book say so. I’ve heard it said that Mexico is still in its adolescence, figuring itself out and trying on various identities to see what truly fits them as a nation. They are in Erik Erikson’s “identity crisis of adolescence.” They are working out their identity and in an almost continual state of of what Erikson calls “moratorium” or a holding pattern till their inner identity is found.
This concept is most striking to me as I sit here in an extremely wealthy mall while kids peddle gum on the streets just to have some food to eat. For a segment of Mexican society it appears that they are embracing and seeking their identity in the idea of the “american dream” that has invaded their country; wealth, materialism, and their version of the white picket fence. I’m not one to believe that all progress is bad but I pray that in all their seeking they do not get caught up in progress, materialism, and the latest fad being peddled by marketers like we have in the US. If we know anything in the US it should certainly be that progress may solve some, and some much needed, societal problems (e.g. sanitation, food quality, available education, etc…) but progress will never solve the inner problems of our hearts. No amount of wealth or technology or entertainment will solve the restlessness and inner yearnings of our hearts. The reality, it seems, is to be quite the opposite. These things only serve to distract us from our inner selves and the ultimate end result reminds me of the great and classic book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” by Neil Postman.
We may be an “advanced” people in the US but we are still an empty people on the inside. If Mexicans are in their adolescents we in the US are the retired 45 year old millionaire who plays golf everyday. He is enjoying the fruit of his hard labor but is continually looking for the next thing to spend his money on or be entertained by because he has quickly become restless on the inside wondering what good all his hard work and money has truly earned him. He is amusing himself to death and the said fact is that he doesn’t even know it.
However, I do pray for progress in Mexico. I do not begrudge them that. We have had our turn and they should have the freedom and be allowed theirs. However, I pray that in in the midst of their progress and development they would not neglect their souls and in fact I pray that they may find their turn center and soul. May they find the One who can truly satisfy their inner being. It will not be found in Starbucks, exotic vacations, fancy cars, or the latest Apple product…but only in the very present and future reality of the Kingdom of God.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fares. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” Isaiah 55:1-3