February 12, 2008


Honduran and US flagsHonduran and US flags

I think there is some nationalism in all of us and that is understandable. We may complain about our own country, but it's like complaining about your wife or husband − you don't want anyone else to do it!

I think, though, that children are indoctrinated in Honduran schools to accept the status quo (poverty and corruption) and to not question authority. It's really the only way that the corrupt powers-that-be can stay in power. If people are more worried about the shame to the country when one of their leaders get 'caught' than they are about what the leaders are actually doing, then the corruptos have nothing to worry about. As long as people accept the status quo, corruption and poverty is what they will have.

US Americans, on the other hand, learn to question and complain and usually think that once an injustice or corruption is brought to light to/by the media, the government, the rights groups, or whoever, that 'someone' will do something about it and they are often right. The U.S. government protects American citizens in ways that most of the world find ridiculous.

This complaining is often carried to an extreme, in my opinion − like the McDonald's hot coffee case, or warning labels which tell you not to use the lawnmower as a hedge trimmer, but overall, someone listens. Wrongs get righted. Citizens are protected from evil wrongdoers and dangerous products. Justice prevails. Overall, anyway.

The complaining and exposés of yellow journalism at the beginning of the last century had a lot to do with improving working conditions for the common man and putting an end to child labor in the U.S. Maybe the government was shamed into doing something about it and maybe the Honduran government needs to be shamed also. Shame can be productive if it isn't swept under the rug.

When some of us gringos complain about conditions in Honduras or wherever we are, sometimes the complaints are taken as rudeness or arrogance. But lots of the injustices don't have anything to do with us expatriates personally.

We complain out of frustration because things DON'T have to be so bad for so many people. Shouldn't everyone have clean water? Shouldn't stores be stopped from selling spoiled food or inferior products? Shouldn't everyone be able to send their children to a decent school? Shouldn't people be paid a wage which allows them to eat three times a day? These things are just flat wrong and I believe that the money IS there to fix them. It just gets diverted into the wrong pockets.

More and more Hondurans are coming back from the U.S. and are doing their share of complaining, too. Is it just that they have picked up bad gringo habits or is it that they now realize that things just shouldn't be so bad? "This is Honduras" is a common answer to many complaints. But does it really HAVE to be that way?
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