A political and philosophical interlude...
So, first off... HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!
For whatever its worth... we give thanks to the mexicans for helping us become the superpower we are today.
in a way its tragic though.... their miracle victory in fact caused their ultimate defeat. the french would have created an American empire out of the tattered and defeated mexicans, the northern US States would have never had the power to win gettysburg against the french reinforced confederacy, nor the clout to create a manifest destiny and expand across the west. They would be weak and vulnerable which would have probably resulted in an invasion by the British in Montreal to retake the northern colonies (if the french didnt manage it first, or the confederacy)... which would have ultimately most likely created a second french-british war (ie the french and indian war better known as the 7 yrs war) in the americas and either the Spanish or the Russians would reclaim the west (that is of course if the natives weren't able to successfully unite because they had more time and weaker and less motivated enemies)
wow.... democracy had a short run in that historical scenario.
Sometimes I wonder though if we would have been better off. its interesting to extrapolate even further the implications. Assuming European events were not derailed, what would have happened with the rise of fascism and communism? (As an aside... somehow this is making me believe in parallel universes.) I question if we would still have the same technology (WWI and WWII were huge in our advancements)? the same world problems like AIDS or poverty? would we have lots of little democratic nations (is democratic revolution inevitable)or dictators and kings as we have lived under or the last several thousand years?? would we be in the same place politically and economically as africa, or be a continent like south america... or would the north american continent have produced and added a multi-poled power structure to world political structures?
It does make me wonder though, what is better... our current relative world peace through what i believe is oppression and hegemony as a result of homogenization, or self-actualization of smaller more diverse countries from surviving loss, bloodshed, countless wars, and no clear victor? If the battle on May 5th never happened the way it did and france won, the north american political landscape would never have resulted in this giant, belabored democratic hegemonic empire that we are today. Orson Welles scripted in his films that "..in Italy they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love. They had 500 years of democracy and peace… and what did that produce? The coo-coo clock!” I guess my answer (what is better) comes down to what you value more... peace or self- actualization.
What is peace though?
an absence of violence? Calm despite the storm? Co-operation? A lack of diversity or growth?
Buddhism and many other spiritual disciplines teach that we grow and come to peace when our hearts are at peace. Yet our society says that peace is the absence of conflict and in order to reduce conflict, you must control your environment and what is causing you inner turmoil. Is it possible to have peace if we constantly seek growth but are unable to grow from an internal self-regulation and enlightenment?? Is growth only obtained though domination and control of our external environment, or can the drive to grow and change be cultivated from within?
The American Founders believed that religion and democracy were inseparable because democracy was unobtainable unless it's populace was religious. The foundation upon which American Democracy rests is that the populace has a responsibility towards self-growth, edification, and spiritual enlightenment. Religion is necessary for those unable to do so independently. They believed that when Religion no longer is able to encourage our children to learn, live lives of personal and embodied responsibility, and have an open and nonjudgmental mind, our nation can no longer be a democracy. I believe it just becomes a mockery. Our elected officials are charged to bring the voice of the average American to the table of debate to create the laws by which we live by. We cannot blame them for a job poorly done, for most only do what they were meant to do and asked to do, while the few remaining are beyond the understanding of the average and their work will remain unfinished, undervalued, and ridiculed to our own peril. What can save us? I hate to say this... but religious education. The challenge: a religious education that encourages our children to learn, live lives of personal and embodied responsibility, and have an open and nonjudgmental mind, because clearly our secular one failed... (idealistically, we actually create a secular education that results in self-growth, edification, and spiritual enlightenment... just like our founding fathers were striven so hard to do).
you see, we can only gain peace when our hearts and minds are not at war. The dahli lama often says "the mind can rationalize fighting back...but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you". When we are able to live within ourselves mindfully and fully embodied so that our minds and bodies are not at war, we are open to our higher purpose and are capable of holding each other in loving grace. With loving grace we naturally seek resolution of conflict, and also forgiveness of trespasses and those who trespass against us. We gain liberty (the ability to choose our life choices for ourselves... self-determination) and are able to live towards freedom (a life where we are not predictable and not controlled). But with freedom, our founding fathers believed it is our duty to learn; to become educated. Through this you then gain the most valuable liberty known to man... the vote. This is what our nations founders believed our nation was to be founded on. To live in a democracy it is our duty to live lives of internal peace, societal cooperation, and devotion to humanities intellectual discoveries so that we can have the right to vote. The vote requires great responsibility. It is not free and not to be taken for granted.
If the Mexican's had not won their battle on May 5th, we may have lost the democracy our founders founded. But we would have gained the ability to become self actualized. It would have probably led to more wars, but through war would come peace. Instead the battle of Puebla created peace and through peace, we have created war. Our path is unsustainable. Our planet dying. Our political and economic and health systems broken. A world loosing its diversity; homogenizing; lost and overcrowded. Would we have been better off if the Mexican's lost? I don't know. We never would Know. But perhaps the small chance that it could be gives me hope. At the very least, if humanity needs to send someone back in time to a single moment to save the world by changing the course of history, I vote for the town of Puebla in 1862. I think its got a chance. lol.