I wrote the article below more than a year ago, and just never posted it because it sounded so gloomy. A recent discussion on our Honduras Living group about "the biggest culture shock" reminded me of this and I decided to go ahead and put it out there for your perusal:
I had an epiphany last night. I woke up in the middle of the night, wide awake for no apparent reason. I had this thought: "I lost my innocence in Honduras. That's why I'm not happy here."
No, I don't mean "that" kind of innocence. Haha.
I mean that I lost my trust in people. My expectation that most people generally do the right thing. My certainty that most people are honest. My belief that people can and should be trusted until they give a reason not to be. My faith in "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
But the things I have seen and experienced in Honduras have shaken all of those beliefs and left a kind of empty feeling behind.
Now, don't get me wrong. I was no wide-eyed innocent. I was always a little cynical by nature and an auditor by profession, so I was taught to be skeptical, ask questions, and analyze the facts of any situation.
But Honduras has changed me, and in this respect, I don't much like the untrusting person that I've become.
Now today, almost in 2008, I think that I'm a little more content than I was back then, partly because I have this blog and have readers and friends not just in Honduras but in other countries many of whom can relate to experiences that I have had. It does help to share with people who have been through the same thing. It helps me to laugh and be politically incorrect about the things that are so different and sometimes seem so upside-down.
While I still would be much happier with the Pollyanna viewpoint that most people are decent and honest, I am more realistic. I always hope for the best, but don't always expect it. I try to have more patience and try, try, try but often fail to keep a sense of humor about things that I can't do anything about.
Just to head off any discussions of culturally different definitions of trust, decency, and honor, I have to say that trust in Honduras is not just an issue with gringos or me personally. A recent National Report of Transparency showed that 47% of the Honduran people surveyed don't trust anyone (including family members) and 46% have very little trust in others for a whopping 93% of the total population! Hondurans may have accepted the situation, but I don't think they enjoy living without trust any more than I do.
And, yeah, I still hope that by treating others honestly and decently, that they will do the same for me. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. I certainly notice and appreciate the times that they do much more now than I used to.
A few semi-related articles:
It's things like these
How peaceful are you?
Christmas in June or "Will you buy me some underwear?"
A Honduran proverb