Sunday, December 13, 2009

The degradation of Argentine Society

I’m having a few difficulties (nothing serious) so maybe this has translated to the way I write.
In spite of this we have much to be grateful for. We have a beautiful family, the kids are fine, our marriage is well, and we suffer no needs like so many people in Argentina do.

With this in mind today we decided to do a small trip to the town of Lujan, famous for its beautiful basilica.
I made reservations this morning and we had lunch in a small restaurant owned and run by Franciscan nuns from Africa and other countries.
It’s been 6 years since I last went there but as always, the food was great and the attention couldn’t be better, they always have a couple prayers on the table before dinner and the place itself has an air of tranquility about it.
The black African nuns that do the waitressing are the kindest, sweetest people I ever had the pleasure to cross paths with.
After lunch we went to the basilica.

Lujan Basilica

As we walked towards it I found a small militaria store that happened to have a few ammo boxes with magazines, 1911 and Hi Power mags, as well as a few FAL mags. I picked 4 “Sistema” 1911 mags that looks ok and we continued walking. We were close enough to the basilica and as always I was impressed by the beauty of the building.
Signs of what was to come came next, as we entered a small store I had visited before with my family, a place where they sell crosses, chains, rosaries and religious medals.
I remembered the place well. I had been impressed as a child by the amount of silver and gold chains, crosses, beautifully crafted works of art that filled the store.
But the decadence was now obvious. Those same display cases were now filled with cheap plastic copies, silver and gold plated jewelry and religious items of low quality. Other displays just had mugs of that of various soccer teams. The virgin of Lujan with a Boca shield glued to it.

When I asked for a silver rosary the man went to a corner and brought one. Instead of a shop full of these as they once had, he now had 3 or 4. The rest was plastic or cheap plated metal.
When we got close to the basilica the view fit the decadence we had seen in the shop: A sea of poor, dirty people. Loud, rude, pushing each other.
Its not just poverty guys. It’s the lack of culture, lack of manners. Everyone yelled, a women threw a dirty diaper on the sidewalk as we passed by, others spit, more yelling and laughing like brutes. Everyone looked dirty and smelled. A bum sitting on the floor reached out to touch my son, we hurried away.
Inside the same picture repeated itself. Dirty people, sweaty. The mass of people laughed and yelled, no respect whatsoever for the holy place. The stink inside because of the dirty people made us sick and we barely sat to say a couple prayers and left.

A few tourists took pictures here and there. Some didn’t like the patrons any more than we did. I suppose others just consider it part of the trip to a third world country, just like they would if traveling to India. But for me it was sad because I’ve been there many years ago and I know what has happened to us, how we once knew better, how we’ve slipped into this grotesque shadow of what we once were as a society.

The beautiful building only contrasted with the occupants, and it pained to think that, the same community that had once build that, now could hardly put two words together and lived in shacks.
The argentine society ( at least in general terms) hasn’t evolved, hasn’t stayed the same, its gone backwards if that’s possible.



Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that. I'll expect the same here and perhaps worse in the U.S.

Julia said...

I think this is what I was alluding to when I said that society was fragile. Maybe I should have said culture?

Another poster said something to the effect that the worst thing would be that we would live similar to how inner city poor live. Ugh.

My mother grew up on the south side of Chicago. I made the mistake of thinking it would be a good idea for us to drive through there again. What a mistake. As she started crying, she said 'we were poor, but we didn't know it', and she talked about how the older generation would even sweep the sidewalks with brooms.

Needless to say, it was a ghetto/slum when we went there, maybe 15 years ago. I share your puzzlement when you wonder how people can change so much. While her neighborhood was now all poor blacks, I think it goes beyond racial divides, as your story illustrates.

Anonymous said...

Cheer up. Look at these.

The only thing, though, is that I keep expecting Alex and his droogs to bust into every picture.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your work since before you started this blog.

This entry regarding your family trip to the cathedral is one of the most heartbreaking pictures you have yet presented.

Poverty is not genteel. It degrades otherwise good human beings. Those poor folks milling around the great church--the ill-educated, unwashed, and unskilled--represent a vast pool of wasted human potential. They are the direct result of corrupt governance and rapacious monetary policy.

And thus shall we all go, alas.

Probably it is that helpless illiteracy which stifles an uprising. Yet if a demagogue could harness that rough energy, watch out!

My very best regards to you and yours,
Ed G.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience when I took a trip to Italy in the mid-90s and visited several cathedrals there. People using the public sidewalk as their personal toilet, little kids trying to pickpocket me while I was waiting to get into the church, hordes of gawking, ill-mannered tourists milling around the church who were shuttled there on a tour bus and had no clue what the hell they were looking at...

I'm not even religious or Christian, but I found the whole spectacle sad. That's just the world we live in. The current lack of respect for history or tradition transcends poverty and race.

Double Tapper said...

We in the USA are going down that same path. I call it the "Age of the Everyman" where nothing is exceptional and everything is mediocre. Society rises or falls to the level of its lowest common denominator. The Ghetto has invaded every aspect of our lives here it seems - music, fashion, common vernacular and civility.

Oldfart said...

I haven't seen anything that bad yet but I do see a definite change in the way people treat each other and the world they/we live in. As a child I was able to run free, with no worry about child predators or drug-crazed bums. Now my grand-daughter can't play in our own yard unless an adult relative is with her.

Those were gentler times and while I miss them, my kids and their kids don't even realize they're gone.

Anonymous said...

It is this similar lack of civility that I see pervading our total culture here in the U.S. While the collapse of a society is extreme and dramatic, it is the everyday disgusting lack of manners, etiquette and respect that sickens and drains me. You cannot escape it- it's everywhere. It's celebrated, while high culture (such as cathedrals) is ridiculed and despised. It amazes me everyday that a revolution hasn't begun, where people stand up and flush the shit down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

If people can't even respect their own bodies (allowing themselves to become morbidly obese), then why should we expect them to respect anything else?

Anonymous said...

The United States is filling up with third-world immigrants, and our existing young people have been turning into idiotic barbarians, all thanks to the money-grubbing internationalists who run our media, academia and government. The movie, "Idiocracy" (funny but with bad language; prophetic and scary) is set 500 years in the future, but I can see that it will not take that long to reach the movie's squalid conditions. We are governed by a combination of plots from 1984 and Brave New World, and few are even courageous enough to speak the truth above a whisper.

-- Rusty

Anonymous said...

This blog is amazing. I'm almost crying at this post in particular.
And, I agree, the USA has the same degradation going on...
I will add, however, that the US has a very active and growing homeschooling community-many are christian, some are freeschooling, and all are definitely committed to family, free thinking or independence of this pervasive, degraded intellectual (or lack of) and social environment, which is sold to us every day in our stores, on our t.v.s (if we choose them), in our music, etc.

In fact, the US is perhaps the most homeschool friendly country, along with new zealand and a couple of others. In California alone, where I live and homeschool, there are an estimated 300k homeschooled children today.

So........I really think it is difficult to compare the US with other countries. Surely Rome will fall, but to say it will be replaced by china, or will fall the way argentina has fallen, is not something one can be sure of.

I don't know if this makes sense-but there are many subtle factors, creating dynamic change,a nd some opposing factors, too, here in the US. ie, homeschoolers and an increasing nanny state, at the same time.

I actually hope all of these expat 'baby boomers'-the ones casey and others are encouraging to get out of dodge-do not throw out the baby with the bathwater....
b/c that kind of intellectual and financial drain on the US will be significant in terms of (ironically!) hastening the US decline/depression.

I believe we have yet to see where 'western' or 'first world' countries will go....change is imminent, but let's not assume what this will look like. The US has a very different history than argentina, regardless of the commonalities. Time will tell....