The Inevitable Evolution of Mexico
We have much to celebrate. Mexico has unquestionably evolved, and has tremendous possibilities of eradicating poverty in the next few years and achieving economic development over the coming decades.
But the task has only begun. We still encounter an infinite number of pending issues to consolidate our progress. Just a few days ago I published, here in this space, a book review of “The Evolution of Everything” written by Matt Ridley, in which evolution is posed as a universal phenomenon that can easily be applied to a large number of societal questions, such as government, politics, morality, economy, currency and culture, among many others.
A nation is, therefore, a complex tapestry where all these questions comes into play, and therefore I feel that nations themselves are subject to an inevitable evolutionary process, beginning with their own culture.
According to Ridley, every culture has reached its current state through an elaborate process of combination, assimilation, and fusion, while many others have simply disappeared. A culture achieves success when it survives and imposes itself over others. The strength and universality of our cultural heritage demonstrates the success of Mexican culture.
I wrote that modern Mexico has evolved over the centuries and how we live now has little to do with the lifestyle of our ancestors 500 years ago, when the difficult and complicated Spanish Conquest that gave birth to our nation first took place. I also stated that culture is the result of the interaction of many others, but I failed to mention that in every region in Mexico there are vast and diverse cultural expressions, which in turn come together and recombine, further enriching our country. Food, music, and traditions in Yucatan or Campeche are not the same as in Veracruz and Chiapas, all of them adjacent states, not to mention the enormous contrasts between Mexico’s southeastern and northern states. This diversity is a sign of the tremendous wealth that makes us great and should make us proud.
This diversity is a sign of the tremendous wealth that makes us great and should make us proud.
The indispensable cultural change
Even though that I have touched on this subject in different texts and conferences, I believe now is the time to reflect upon the Mexico we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren, for nothing is more important than our legacy. Together we must participate actively in Mexico’s evolution, promoting a cultural change that eliminates obsolete ideas that complicate the development of our nation, and adopts constructive methods that encourage its advancement.
Culture of legality. According to the deceased economist Rüdiger Dornbusch, Latin America’s problem is that while the developed countries have strictly applied flexible laws, Latin American countries have flexibly applied stringent laws.” a saying that very well describes our institutional framework. To make matters worse, there is no speedy justice in Mexico, and as we know, slow justice is no justice at all, while corruption and dishonesty prevail. Our judicial system has collapsed due to the failed “war on drugs”.
Effort and wealth. Another category of problems has to do with the “defeatism” that afflicts many of us. A great number of Mexicans feel that effort and dedication have little to do with moving ahead in a country where cronyism prevails. Mexicans do not conceive wealth as a result of effort, but as a product of exploitation, and as a consequence of this colonial point of view, they become addicted to certain titles denoting rank, academic, and social status. In addition, due to this twisted perspective of wealth, some are inclined to take away what is not theirs; they are immersed in what I call the culture of dispossession. As a result, our society must invest a huge amount of resources in public security and the number one problem is precisely the lack of such security.
Education: This topic is frequently addressed in spaces where I express my opinions. The reason is simple: human capital is the most important way of creating wealth, and strengthening and encouraging talents and capacities is the only way to develop our country from the bottom up. Unfortunately, the educational situation in Mexico is terrifying. Secondary and high school students have a mediocre performance at a global scale.
These are the three pillars of a real cultural change, which we must promote in our families, schools, universities and work places.
Culture of legality, effort and wealth and education are the three pillars of a real cultural change, which we must promote.
Perhaps slowly, with ups and downs, but Mexico has evolved. This is especially the case in the past three decades, in which we left behind the recurrent crisis in our balances of payment and our chronic addiction to foreign savings.
But today we must look further ahead. We should never settle for what is, for there are still many pending issues. Our road to development is long and full of obstacles. Nevertheless, I consider myself a rational optimist, because I am sure that Mexico’s evolution is inevitable. Indeed, Mexico has everything it needs to become a developed country. Our children and grandchildren deserve a bright future; and it is our responsibility to participate in its construction.