Fixing Puerto Rico: Part I


Read: Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

I have always been a moral rebel. I’ve broken at least half of the Ten Commandments, maybe more. I don’t like being told what to do and don’t like government trying to be my parent.

However, despite my years as a prodigal son, it is hard not to recognize that the fundamentals of right and wrong are critical to the survival of all societies.

It is probably important to address what the fundamentals of right and wrong actually entail.

Right and wrong are not about sexual preferences; they are not about whether you drink or smoke; and they are not about any other personal choice issue. Right and wrong are not about lechon (pork), Reggaeton music, or sexually suggestive dancing. Those are moral codes, developed by and imposed by religion and something each individual should resolve with his own deity.

Right and wrong are the basic rules highlighted in the poem by Robert Fulghum:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

I am a big fan of cookies and naps, but not milk.

These simple rules, when not taken out of context could save Puerto Rico. They are the simple application of decency in its simplest expression. Maybe not all apply in every circumstance, but most apply at least once a day. These kinds of simple non-intrusive rules are lost on generations whose sense of entitlement has twisted their understanding of how their actions or lack of actions impact others.

Allow me to highlight a few.

Play Fair

The whole world could use some of this, although it may be just too hard for humanity to achieve. A simple sense of fairness that you have to be honest in your dealings with others, including your opponents, struggles to find traction.

In politics, one party supports one thing, and the other opposes it. A few years later, roles are reversed on exactly the same issue. Both parties likely already know how to solve the island’s problems, but partisan politics and fears of attacks from the other party make it impossible for either side to simply move forward.

Don’t Hit People (or kill them)

There exists almost no respect for others on the streets of Puerto Rico. Women and men are often abused by spouses, and the violence on the streets — although the murder rate is down — is still out of control.

Put Things Back Where You Found Them; Clean Up Your Own Mess

From politicians to individual citizens, imagine how much time and money could be saved if people did this on their own. If a government policy turns disastrous, it is incumbent on the instigator to acknowledge the failure and fix it. Similarly, if you want to clean the environment, stop throwing trash on the ground.

Don’t Take Things That Aren’t Yours

Petty theft, armed robbery, and respect for private property are lost in the Puerto Rico of today. This trend follows the socialist left’s attempt to make all property public and to hate those who have more property than they do. Want prices to go down, insurance rates? Respect for private property is a must.

Say You’re Sorry

Accept responsibility for your actions, whether in your private life or public life. Make amends to those whom you have hurt. There are so many people who seem to think that an apology is a sign of weakness, when in fact it is a sign of strength and resilience. We can do better, and it starts with how we treat others.

All of these things fall under the heading of “personal responsibility.” It is the part of liberty, however, that everyone seems to forget: you are free to choose, but you and you alone are responsible for the choices you make.

This basic rule should be taught in every kindergarten class in Puerto Rico, and if I had my way, throughout the world. The fundamentals of right and wrong may seem inflexible, but they should be.

Further, while some basic rules should be taught in school, parents have the primary responsibility for teaching these things in voice and in act. So far, most of us have failed.

There is one other point from this poem that I would like to highlight and it may be the most important one.

Be Aware of Wonder

Puerto Rico is an amazing place, full of amazing people. Yet her beauty and style is tarnished by decades of dirty politics and the blood of thousands of murder and other crime victims.

We should not lose sight of this ever. If we must fight, if we must argue and debate, can we at least agree on what direction we are trying to go? Our intent is and should be to bring paradise back to itself.

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