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Reflections on Manana Forever
Published on November 9, 2013 By Phil Osborn In Current Events

What immediately follows is my own take on the discussion concerning problems with licensing more bars or liquor outlets in downtown Santa Ana, in the face of known problems of public drunkeness, under-age drinking and a history of related problems.

People drink because they are in pain or dealing with stress. This "solution" (no pun intended) can work on an occasional or low level - 1-2 drinks per day - but tends to perpetuate the problems, especially when multiple drinks are involved. We know all this. So, why not deal with the source, the stress? Some stress is individual and not easilly subject to social solutions. A lot of the stress in Santa Ana, however, is due to factors that could and should be controlled, such as excessive noise.

Unfortunately, on this and many similar issues, we run into the cultural roadblock described by Jorge Casteneda's "Manana Forever." As Casteneda cites from numerous source polls, the overwhelmingly prevelant attitude among people of Mexican culture - of which Santa Ana is strongly derivative, is that complaining only makes things worse.

So, when I ride the bus to work, if the driver is Hispanic, then usually he will get annoyed if I point out that the bus is frigidly cold, with the mostly Hispanic ridership all hugging themselves trying to stay warm, or excessively hot, with sweat running down passenger's faces. I've had several such drivers point out that I was the only person complaining, as though I were the problem, not simply flipping the switch for heat or air-conditioning.

When the City Council passed the infamous Garage Sale Ordinance, one of the most draconian and destructive such ordinances in all of the OC, one which probably impacted over 50% of the mostly Hispanic residents, they got virtually no opposition, no doubt partially due to language barriers, but also due to a cultural history - the hacienda system - that mandated doing whatever the Jefe says, publically anyway, and then sneaking behind the law privately, as Castaneda details in depth.

So, that brings us to the underlying problem, the one that underlies all the superficial manifestations, such as shopkeepers who routinely overcharge, on the assumption that no one will object, or idiots who drive through the barrios all hours with 2,000 watt subwoofers interrupting everyone's peace and sound sleep, leading to stress, and, coming full circle, to fixes for the stress such as alcohol.

The underlying problem, as Castaneda concludes, is that Mexican culture needs desperately to remake itself to deal with the modern connected world. The machismo individualism that restricts trust to the family, rewards the jerk with the car with a boom or the cutout mufflers as a "MACHO MAN!," and undercuts any possibility of organizing to deal with things we SHOULD BE complaining about must be actively opposed! And changed!

That's my complaint. I'm voicing it. Let's fix it. I suggest that everyone reading this get a copy of "Manana Forever," read it, and then let's start a Meetup dedicated to preserving and enhancing the beautiful and intrinsically good aspects of the culture that dominates this city, but also work to incorporate ways to move us from a no-longer existent ancient system of arbitrary authority to a modern, empowering, high-trust way of meeting the modern world.

A further note. As Castaneda documents, the justice system of Mexico is an antiquated piece of crap that has virtually none of the safeguards or objectivity of a modern country. There are no trials by jury and mostly no trials as such at all. Instead, some underpaid and overworked clerk, who probably gets most of his income on the basis of who prevails in the case before him, writes up a decision that a judge signs off on, generally without reading it. People without money or family lanquish in jail for years, waiting for that decision, while the 1% do whatever they want.

Whatever the faults of the justice system(s) here in the U.S. or particularly in Santa Ana, they are miraculously better than Mexico, but how many Ist generation Santanans understand that they can actually go to the courts here with a reasonable expectation of justice? Maybe the city should sponsor a program, or underwrite or provide space for such a program to educate the Hispanic residents about their legal rights and how to work the system to protect those rights. That might be a good first step towards the reexamination of cultural traits that I suggested above.


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