The Tyranny of American Optimism

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“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, the Mexican side, Mexican peasants are tantalized by the American possibility of change. On the other side, the American 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.” – From Darling: A Spiritual Autobiographyby Richard Rodriguez, an amazing book that ultimately evokes the dream that won’t disappoint or kill: that of mutual, interdependent love. This is the most compelling memoir, with the most beautiful language, and I don’t want it to end.

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