The country where I grew up is one of many Catholic conundrums that resulted from the Inquisition. I am not sure how much of this is based on my interpretation, and how much of it is based in truth but I have always leaned towards the joyful, passionate side of faith and spirituality. The three core beliefs I carry forward from my indoctrination (eleven years of Catholic school should, in fact make me a master!) are: free will, love, and divinity in my own humanity. In any given situation, the answer to the glib question of WWJD (what would Jesus Do?) will be anchored in any combination of these three.
We are now in the Lenten season and Catholics everywhere are making sacrifices and pulling back from too much joy-making. I wonder about this. In many ways joy and sacrifice are two sides of the same coin. Here in America, the pursuit of the elusive dream entails a degree of sacrifice made towards the pursuit of joy. At its best, it comes with as joyful sacrifice. It engenders a deep sense of pride. And if we are truly honest, it isn't sacrifice at all, it is strategy. And it can be beautiful.
The promise of the American Dream has seduced many of my kind, the immigrant kind, to come with our own hopes, our own beliefs and yes our many faiths. We sacrifice the familiar for the foreign to pursue a better life, which means as many things are there are people who partake of the pursuit. One key difference may well be this: it is almost always a joyful sacrifice. It is almost always done out of love, for family and loved ones, with deep sense of purpose. It is almost always done by choice, lovingly and fueled in divine humanity.
What else gives a mother the gumption to leave her own to tend to another woman's family? What else gets a son through a long hard day in the orange groves when he could be an engineer back home? What else gives a father a deep sense of pride doing work other men deem lowly? Tough times have befallen America, and many are having a hard time. I cannot help but wonder if they realize just how lucky they are. I cannot help but feel sorry not for their suffering, but for this misguided sense of entitlement.
Where I come from, no matter what your station in life, you work hard. You don't take anything for granted because economies and governments never find their stability. You don't count on anything but yourself and the people you love. And while you need to be self sufficient, you know you are never alone. There is so much we can teach America, if she cared to listen. We can teach them actually, paring it down to one or two cars and just one TV is nothing compared to uprooting yourself from the country you love. We can teach you that giving stuff up for the benefit of family and loved ones is in fact more joy than sacrifice. We can teach you that you have so much more than they realize.
If America wants truly to be 'the land of the free and the home of the brave' then she better grow a tougher skin and a more joyful heart. When people make sacrifices in America, they are almost always guaranteed joyful rewards. Not many parts of the world can say this. Take it from someone whose country is ruled by lies and corruption in the hands of a government run by oligarchs who continue to enrich themselves at the expense or progress. America, the next time you think about complaining,I suggest you come visit my country. See what it's really like to sacrifice and do without. Then be baffled at how, despite the desperation, love of family and faith keep us joyful.