By Tierra Negra, Courier Correspondent
Society has created all sorts of assertions to make our reality more palatable. Part of pursuing happiness has to deal with discovering our "own" truth and, the difficulty of this task merely depends on a shot of luck produced by the gender born with and the set of beliefs designed for the culture in which an individual is raised.
These ideas, found in every stage of life, range from being small and harmless to a degree where it becomes necessary to invest years of stern reasoning, reflection and experimentation to prove them wrong and, by the time this takes place it might be too late in life. Overall, they aim to force people to do "the right thing" as if we were born evil when it has been demonstrated we are void of any biased information when we are brought into life.
Shielded by yet another generalization that "nobody wants to hear the truth" we are bombarded everyday with an infinite amount of marketing lies that engage our brains in constant editing trying to make the right inferences that prevent us from living in a "fantasy" world. Some will never get out of this "sleepwalking" because it is unnecessary, inconvenient or uncomfortable so it is just better to stop fighting it and go with it.
I cannot help but laugh about innocence when it does not produce any harm like in a recent Volkswagen advertisement. It portrays a kid trying to see the power of his "inner force" dressed in a Dark Vader costume. It finally proves successful, after a long day, when the car ignition is remotely started by his father from the kitchen (who by the way the kid has refused to greet upon arrival overwhelmed by his task).
Eventually, we all suppose to lose this state of blissful ignorance after trials and errors that take us through all kinds of scenarios misconstrued with superstitions (studied and demonstrated in animals by the psychologist Skinner). We want to believe in karma, dharma or that everybody pays, sooner or later, for wrong doing but this cannot become real unless we do something besides leaving it to chance or the "hand of god". It could end up being very painful investing more than thirty years living under such premises.
I remember clearly how I was to believe that baby Jesus or the Wise Men would bring toys to those that behaved well. Every year my mind would take notice of how my male cousins got more expensive and exciting presents. It would conclude that my behavior was not as good as theirs which kept me watching out for things to improve but, no matter how hard I tried, baby Jesus continue to fail delivering the toys of my dreams.
Then I found out my parents were responsible for getting such goods and I had to drop my conclusions however, it developed the compulsive habit of questioning myself if I was at fault for some reason or another, clear or not. A "white lie" like this or like "not eating the seeds of the watermelon because one could grow one inside the belly" have no greater consequences but they start a training program that would make us gullible enough to absorb an incredible amount of misinformation difficult to overcome with age.
The "she found the 'blue prince', got married and lived happily ever after" might send you to a wrong popular setting of "happy married life" where problems are just about to begin sharing a house with different habits and expectations from each other.
Hollywood does a great job selling certain "dreams". Julia Roberts made millions with ill advice through films that, if followed, would doom women because they are no more than few exceptions to the rule when real at all. Erin Brokovich life changed by just one successful case without long years of apparent unnecessary education and, Cinderella now can be a prostitute instead of just a maid -like in the Televisa Mexican soap operas of my childhood, in order to find the "millionaire prince" as seen in "Pretty woman". Meryl Streep in "It's complicated" is able to run a business, keep a house spotless, entertain, and of all odds... Grow a vegetable garden! Though we never see her doing any hard work with all the chores implied least the help of a servant throughout the whole movie.
I grew up in Mexico watching American TV series from the 70's where women were very successful, respected professionally and, the good always triumphed over the bad. It turned out to be a whole different universe that caught me completely unprepared to face my reality. I suffered from sexual harassment at work and a provision in my Union contract would have never been fulfilled if I had not gone to request attention to the matter to higher hierarchies in Mexico City .
"All you need is love" might work for men but not for women if having sexual intercourse is all the meaning intended by this idea. It usually ends up forgetting about the consequences and avoiding any responsibility that would provide for food, clothing and living quarters once a "baby brought by the stork" magically appears.
Things would be so much less complicated for women if they knew about men's primarily “need” to mate by the time of reproduction age! Instead, in the Mexican society I grew up, women's sexuality was to be suppressed elaborating smoke curtains that would force them to believe all the nonsense behind this basic intention. Apparently some ladies manage to take advantage of this knowledge later in life but nobody is happy because men complain of being manipulated and deceived by their partner’s “natural need” of reproducing the specie who only wants him for his "hard earned" money or “good looks” and nothing else. Although we do not have to go to the extreme of the movie "The invention of lying", there must be a fair middle ground for both.
What gets completely out of hand is when Catholicism manages to imprint the following beliefs in a female: "A woman can still be virgin after giving birth or get pregnant through a spirit (like the mother of Jesus)", "women are the ones responsible for men's falling into sin (like when Eve tempted Adam)" or "one must serve others altruistically without measure because god will provide” (like the exemplary mother Theresa of Calcuta). Actually, giving and nurturing is already a natural inclination in all women that go through motherhood and, the last assertion only ensures they are sent into a hard to avoid depression, post partum or not.
I was out of luck for following such ill advises blindly altogether with avoiding the use of contraception as the church firmly stipulates and then, I was found guilty for going to this extreme because it was expected of me to find a "middle way". To add insult to injury, I believed in a constitution that hardly anybody respects in Mexico but eloquently quotes that "I have freedom of expression if I choose to exercise it".
After uttering that the reasons of my depression was precisely following Catholicism dogmas so I was going to be an atheist from then on, I was harassed by a praying group I used to belong and placed in a mental institution for a week, against my will, by my own mother and ex-husband.
Although god never seemed to help me once even when I was on the street, kicked out of my household and penniless or, during the following eight years full of hardships as a result of migrating to this country and leaving my children behind in order to achieve financial stability, to believers eyes it has been god all along who has precisely delivered all my current achievements.
I wish his aid would have been invested in expediting my asylum so I could have reunited with my kids earlier but perhaps I had to prove as well that the pledge "...indivisible under god with liberty and justice for all" is missing this part: with the means to pay for them.