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My brother, the Argentinean Gandhi

There is a bit of an un-spoken epidemic in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of: “everyone is corrupt”, “everyone steals“.   Almost like a mantra you will hear it on a taxi cab ride, on the subway among passengers, at the supermarket, etc. It gets even worse when you approach the suburbs.

The driver that took my brother and I back from my father’s house a while ago was in such a mood, the “Argentinean mood”.  At first, and I give it to him, he recounted the story of how a few weeks ago 3 teenagers trespassed and stole in his house, pointing guns at him and his wife, not easy, half of that would probably leave me a wreck, but did not surprise me as a very close relative of mine had himself lived through something like it (gun and all) last year.


This led of course to the conversation of: what should be done?, what can be done? 

I felt the compulsion to give my opinion, don’t we all? I have a very clear idea of what would solve the problem, I KNOW.  The truth is I have no idea what would solve the issues of this country. The US it is not, so my brilliant idea of bringing someone like Guliani would be completely off…

The drivers’ proposed solution was almost alarming: the military, again. In case you have not heard in the 70 and early 80s we had a military government under which 30,000 people “disappeared” inflation went up 517,000% (yes you read that number right) and we initiated a very silly war against England which we lost, of course.

My brother in a completely friendly and approachable manner says to the driver:

Let me throw a bomb, please don’t take it personally. In this cab right now, my sister and I are wearing a seat-belt, you are not.

I was thrown off, so was our driver, then brother continued, in the sweetest yet strong voice you could imagine

I know things are not perfect, but to what extend do we take personal responsibility?  Are you running for mayor of your town? do you know of someone who is and whom you support?,  I mean, we can be angry all the time, I give you that, but then perhaps we can be angry 90% of the time, and once a quarter go to the public library and read a book to a child. I mean, just talking here, opening the dialog…

I was speechless, the solution was in us, of course, I knew that, how come I did not remember? did I go to sleep?  The driver was friendly back, my brother had established that rapport that allows for open conversation.  He asked, “but let me ask you something, how come the politicians are stealing from each other, and they fight, and they all want the money”?


And brother goes:

Do you sometimes get a trip all the way to Buenos Aires and the customer is willing to pay 150 pesos instead of 100 because he is in a hurry and you want it, but a co-worker also wants it?, do you have a bit of a fight with that other driver? do you send him to hell?, well imagine if in place there was 1,000,000? would that cause some problems?

When we arrived at destination I paid him 105 pesos (about 27 dollars), the trip costs 100, but I gave him 105, because, “I come from a country where people tip”…

Driver was happy, made friends with my brother, they had a heart to heart, my brother brought in some truth, he could have left it at “yes everything is bad”, and forget about the conversation, he has a lot on his plate right now, but he did not, he went for it, and brought this up.

I was left wondering, could it possibly be that sometimes I don’t just go numb in asanas but in life in general? how much discernment does it take to stand up for our values at all times?

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