Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stoicism and Optimism

From an interesting Richard Rodriguez piece about Cesar Chavez:

If you would understand the tension between Mexico and the United States that is playing out along our mutual border, you must understand the psychic tension between Mexican stoicism— if that is a rich enough word for it— and American optimism. On the one side, Mexican peasants are tantalized by the American possibility of change. On the other side, the tyranny of American optimism has driven Americans to neurosis and depression— when the dream is elusive or less meaningful than the myth promised. This constitutes the great irony of the Mexican-American border: American sadness has transformed the drug lords of Mexico into billionaires, even as the peasants of Mexico scramble through the darkness to find the American dream.


Sean said...

Interesting snippet. Although, I have to say, my time at Berkeley (where he is generally hated) soured me against Rodriguez some. He's a talented writer, but I find some of his politics suspect. Have you ever read any of the back and forth he had with Victor Villanueva regarding the arguments for/against English only education?

framiko said...

Yeah, he was definitely a despised figure in a lot of the things I read in a Teaching of Writing course several years ago. I don't know how I feel about the entirety of his Chavez piece (in fact, I didn't read the whole thing), but I did like the bit I quoted in the post.