Tag Archives: Bullying

“Pain and oppression do not have the last word.”

“For me. . . spirituality and the work for justice are entirely inseparable. If either one is authentic, it leads to the other.”

I’m not Catholic, but I stand in awe of those who serve as Sister Pat Farrell has through her life. Her grace and courage have placed her at the head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Read about the crossroads this organization is approaching with the Vatican. 

Are the 57,000 sisters in the United States insufficiently or incorrectly spiritual? Is their primary mission to run hospitals, work with the poor and keep their mouths shut? Actually, listening to the interviews that Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air has conducted with Sister Farrell and with Bishop Leonard Blair (the Vatican-appointed guy charged with bringing the sisters into line), the main complaint is that the sisters have been silent on issues relating to birth control, abortion and same sex marriage.  Seems most of them have been doing their jobs and keeping their mouths shut, but if Sister Pat is any example, they’ve been praying hard and letting Love lead the way in each situation.

I’ve written a lot, though not lately, in this blog about “virgin qualities.” The genius of Guadalupe, the relevance of virgin qualities however they appear on the human scene, is that there is no preaching, doctrine or diatribe involved. It is the virgin presence that speaks for itself, and no words are able to express it. But, oh, how powerful it is. Sister Pat knows. That’s why she can stand at this crossroads and speak of her “deep knowing that pain and oppression do not have the last word.” Many of us will be standing with her in spirit.

 

Paquita La Del Barrio — Got Her Inner Guadalupe Goin’

A recent post on Jaltemba Jalapeno enlightened me as to the finer points of cleaning rags. Who knew? I’ve always just torn up old nightgowns and t-shirts! But it also introduced me to Paquita La Del Barrio. Ya gotta love this lady! After watching the video in the post, I looked her up on Wikipedia. A brief English translation: “Married” at fifteen to a guy 42 years old with a whole other family, she had a rocky start in life. But she also had a later marriage that lasted thirty-one years, until she was widowed in 2004. Today she galvanizes the feminine troops encouraging them to stand up to machista attitudes.

This may be the most conflicted of blogposts I’ve ever witnessed. Thanks, Darlene, for the domestic wisdom, and thanks, enlightened webmaster Johan, for the feminist riff on it!

Inner Guadalupe = Outer Revolution

Tawakkol Karman looks a lot like Guadalupe.

Practical advice on dealing with bullies

Seems I’m on a campaign these days against bullying. The major part of my recent posts deal with the subject. I didn’t set out to do that, but it just seems pertinent these days, and I don’t think I’ve lost focus from what Virgin Territory and “my Inner Guadalupe” are all about.

“What has standing up to bullies got to do with Guadalupe?” you ask.  Well, remember it was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that Father Hidalgo raised when Mexico was going up against the bully named Spain. In fact revolutionary movements have often raised the image of the Virgin. Virgin qualities — being whole, complete, un-captured, un-invaded, un-broken and intact — are what sustain us against bullies. And some sound practical advice comes in handy as well. Check out this article

Stand up to the Bully named FEAR

The economy here on Jaltemba Bay, the body of water on which sits our adopted home in Guayabitos, has received a one-two punch this year. I hope it’s not down for the count.

First of all, Mexico received more rain last summer than they have EVER received in a summer before. It was record-breaking. Most news stories have focused on the States of Oaxaca, Tabasco and Veracruz. The devastation is heart-wrenching, if one has not become inured to images of soggy humanity across the hemispheres, east and west.

But there was lots of rain here on the central Pacific Coast north of Puerto Vallarta. In fact the northbound two-lane span of the bridge which takes us from here on Jaltemba Bay to there on bigger Banderas Bay washed away completely. Here we are, not quite cut off from the airport, Sam’s Club and COSTCO (I speak with tongue in cheek), but having to expand our timelines to accommodate time spent confined to one lane each direction.

No lives here were lost on a par with Oaxaca or Veracruz, gracias a Dios, as our neighbors remind us.  But being able to make a living has definitely taken a nosedive. Here in the State of Nayarit, for a period of about seven weeks this past summer we received between six and eight inches practically every night. Where does most of that water go? Away! And it carries a lot of infrastructure and landscape with it. “Worse than Kenna,” my friend Chelo intones, nodding her head sadly, referring to the 2002 hurricane from which the local market town of La Penita has never fully recovered. It was only this past winter that further progress was made in clearing the waterfront wreckage from that storm.  Kenna came and went, as giant whirlwinds are wont to do. The rain this past summer was relentless, a slow pummeling of a people and economy that were already on the ropes, weakened by bad press revolving around narcotraficante wars and swine flu.

The bruises from this recent pounding are evident. The main roads into both San Pancho and Sayulita, beach towns to the south of us, are still closed. Access to those towns is by pedestrian footbridge in one case and in the other by a circuitous route that bumps and grinds its way through back streets full of potholes. Gas trucks with fresh water and butane have difficulty supplying their customers. This is not great for tourism.

There’s more. The famous surfing beach at Sayulita that attracts winter crowds of experts as well as wannabes is now a sand bar way off shore.  The stretch of sand in front of Don Pedro’s Restaurant where rows of cobalt blue cabanas and beach chairs used to stand sentry over the surfers are gone. Water laps at the wall right below your “beach side” table.  And the pavement on Highway 200, the artery that connects these beach towns like pendants and beads on a necklace – it can be as unpredictable as that necklace you buy on the beach.  Don’t put a lot of stress on it, or it will break and scatter the pieces it’s supposed to hold together.

Number two punch, actually two short jabs right to the gut, were travel advisories issued by both the Canadian and U. S. governments. There’s nothing like putting an official stamp of approval on a rampant case of heebie-jeebies. Every time there is a shooting in Juarez or Tijuana, ten people or more cancel a trailer park reservation in Guayabitos, La Peñita, or Lo de Marcos, all of them over a thousand miles to the south. Yes there is violence along the border, but it is a rare case indeed when touring motorists are involved. On our two trips crossing the border this summer, we had no problems. We hear the same from the friends who have started trickling back into town. Their stories match ours: The Federales were present at many checkpoints, and all were solicitous that Americans and Canadians feel safe and secure in their travels. In our own case, the immigration official at the Columbia crossing west of Laredo was particularly cordial when he stamped our documents. The cleaning lady had had to go wake him up, as we were the first foreign visitors to come through in several hours. He was overjoyed to see us! And for those who are especially cautious, the Green Angels have offered free escort service to anyone who wants it.

So this is directed to those who love this area, who think of it as a second home. Are you a fair-weather friend? Your second home neighbors miss you! Get into the ring and lend a hand. Mexico wants you here. Mexico needs you here. Yes, flights into Vallarta are full of one week vacationers, but snowbirds from the frozen north — snowbirds who spend months here, not days — are the bread and butter of this coast. These are the people who provide fuel for the local economy, a hitherto growing economy fostering a burgeoning middle class, an economy that provided a buffer and defense against those narcotraficante recruitment posters that ask, “Tired of eating beans and rice? Join us!”

Come on! Do your part. Let’s stand up to the bully named FEAR. If you’re going to throw in the towel, do it on the beach!

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Mexico Road Trips is a site that offers traffic and safety reports. Check them out. They are frank, up front and reliable. Dot and Bill Bell have put more miles on their car traveling Mexico’s highways than anyone else I know – 10,000 miles alone this summer, crossing the border many times.

Young woman sheriff in Mexico = Guadalupe Presence…gone

Marisol Valles Garcia said, “Yes.” She is twenty years old and she’s become the sheriff of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a town practically on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, the most dangerous city in Mexico.  Here’s a link to the story.

Her name, a combination of Mary and Sun, is appropriate. THIS is how the Guadalupe presence functions. That woman-image from Revelation 21, “clothed with the sun,” offers a new paradigm for conquering evil.  New? After all, those words have been there for a long, long time. But maybe we’re moving into a time, when we’re finally ready to leave the old model behind. That’s the one we’ve been playing over and over again: perpetrator, victim and rescuer.  The innocent victim is tied to the railroad tracks by an evil villain and waits for a hero to show up and save the day.

In the new model, it is Guadalupe (Woman, the spiritual ideal, the image of God, enlightened consciousness — SO many names) who shows up. Her presence is the day, and like dawn destroys the night, the mere fact of her existence sends darkness packing. The Guadalupe presence doesn’t retaliate, use force or bravado. It simply is what it is — virgin.

Virginity is powerful.  In its original concept, it had NOTHING to do with physiology. Being a virgin meant having authority, because a virgin was “author” of her own experience. She carried no labels from any faction. She was defined by no relationship other than the one she maintained with her Creator. She was no one’s daughter, servant, wife, lover, or mother. She was “one-in-herself.” She was whole, complete, un-captured, unbroken, un-invaded, intact. Can’t touch that! Not without going down in flames.

Am I saying Marisol Valles Garcia is an incarnation of Guadalupe, another appearance of The Virgin there on the Texas and Mexico border? No, no more than I would say she was the sun itself. But I do recognize a sunbeam when I see one.  Perhaps the dawn is breaking.

March 9, 2011 Update:  Sad to report there are clouds over that dawn. I’ve been wondering what was going on with Marisol, and found this from two days ago. And this article in Spanish from yesterday. Evidently Marisol has fled to the U.S. in the face of death and kidnapping threats. The mayor of Praxedis G. Guerrero, called after her, “You’re fired.” Sounds like he’s about as supportive of public employees as Wisconsin Republicans.

Is Mexico being bullied?

Business as usual here, watching Stateside evening local news: If it bleeds it leads. Rarely has a night gone by during the last two and half months that I’ve been north of the border in Texas, California and Washington state, that I haven’t seen some story of a drive-by shooting, a carjacking or another example of road rage that ended in violent confrontation. The reporting and the rhetoric are paced like gunfights — talk shows even have names like “Crossfire” and “Hard Ball” — and while the commentators may not be engaged in actual physical violence, I for one have the urge to hurl something at the television screen. And if Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and Whoever weren’t dark and scary enough, there are the trailers for movies that are running or coming. What happened to sweet sunshiney escapism? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to get in our new Great Depression? These films feed depression!

This edgy, confrontational, smack ’em down and keep ’em down attitude is getting on my nerves. I yearn for a public atmosphere of reverence for family, friendship and cooperation, a public sense of safety and serenity, and of quiet satisfaction with simple pleasures.  I MISS MEXICO!! Yeah, I said it. Mexico has all those things, no matter what the U.S. media says to the contrary.

Is the country of my birth becoming a bully? I recently read a post, called Memoirs of a Bullied Kid. The author is generous to his former tormentors, pointing out that in calling him names, shoving him around and making his life miserable, that they, the tormentors themselves, were being impelled by their own insecurities and problematic home lives. The U.S. has been doing a bang up media bullying job on Mexico for the last several years. They have painted their neighbor to the south as a “failed state,” or “riddled with violence.” They have warned off tourists with images of headless bodies and swine flu, and have scapegoated brown-skinned people on both sides of the border.  The longer the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued unresolved, the deeper in doo doo the American economy has sunk, the more, ahem, mud-slinging has taken place. Here are some further links that back up what I’m saying here:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2010/08/mexico

http://www.mexicopremiere.com/?p=4166

http://www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/wordpress/2010/10/travel-warning-for-the-united-states/

So I’ll take a clue from Single Dad Laughing who encourages us to reach out with compassion to both the bullied and the bully. Come on, Country of my birth that I love. You are capable of so much more than the way you’ve been acting!  Have you forgotten your greatness, your goodness, and the power that comes of bringing out the greatness in others? Get with your Inner Guadalupe, stop the cursing, and let the blessing begin!

Guadalupe as Head Cheerleader

Gin Turner was head cheerleader at Lubbock High School when I was a lowly, very uncool sophomore, fall semester, 1964. My locker was next to that of another uncool kid. Neal wore a bow tie, a pocket protector and carried a brief case. I tried to ignore him. So did practically everyone else. Except when they were making his life miserable.

I saw that happen up close and personal one day when, after slamming his locker door shut, Neal dropped his briefcase and it sprang open. Papers flew everywhere, all over the dark brown linoleum hallway floor where two corridors intersected. Neal dropped to his knees to pick them up. About that time a group of “cool” guys came around the corner and began kicking the papers out of his reach, laughing, shoving, and taunting him. I stood by and did nothing. So did everyone else.

Around the other corner came a group of cheerleaders. It was a game day, and they were in uniform. Gin was front and center and her eyes immediately took in what was going on. She didn’t say a word. She dropped to her knees and began helping Neal. She kept at it until everything was in order. She smiled at him and wished him well, and went on her way. And I stood there — changed. From that moment on, I knew one thing:  I wanted to be like HER.

Look her up in the yearbook, and you’ll see that year she was not only head cheerleader, she was prom queen, homecoming queen, most popular, most EVERYTHING. We all adored her. She was love personified, and she walked among us.  She led simply by being who she was. Bullying disappeared because it simply couldn’t exist when Gin was there. And she was present, everywhere.

And then, in a few short years, she was gone.

If ever there was a Guadalupe presence, Gin Turner was it.  She set a standard of love and respect at Lubbock High School that year, and her influence, I feel sure, continues in the lives of those who knew her. I raise her image in this time of bullying. Perhaps her story can continue to change lives. It changed life for Neal. And it certainly changed mine.