See-no-Evil, Hear-no-Evil, Speak-no-Evil Culture

See-no-Evil, Hear-no-Evil, Speak-no-Evil Culture

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Some days ago I wrote about one aspect typical of the Venezuelan culture, the one related to pretending to know everything and be in a position to opine and make other change their views. Paradoxically, Venezuelans are also capable of assuming a deathly-silence posture when it comes to no meterse en peo (avoding shit).

We may think of this partly as cowardice, partly survival instinct. In a society where impunity runs rampage and where military institutions can act with total arbitrariness and without accountability, it is hard for an average citizen to takes risks denouncing violent crimes or corruption.

The problem resides in the fact that even in domestic affairs, the most parochial things that might be clarified if only we had vital information available, Venezuelans recur to a partial-top secret mode, according to which you name the sin, but not the sinner. Before the question, “Who told you that?” or “How do you know?” comes the famous “a person” or “a little bird” (a phrase that was even funny before Maduro turned it into an object of derision).

I guess that, like the gossip, intruding, and exaggeration cultures, the culture of no-see/no-hear/ may also be universal and manifest itself with its own peculiarities in different countries. The truth is that in mine it becomes a hideous attitude considering the opacity in which our last two presidents have drowned the country for 20 years. The excessive zeal for a fake sense of safety only aggravates the culture of impunity.

We keep seeing and hearing about robberies, batteries, corruption, schemes that destroy reputations and projects, but we also keep washing our hands, like Pilate. That, of course, until the half-told truths affect us directly; then, we invoke feverously the full-disclosure doctrine, the without-secrecy policy, the Let’s-not-be-partners-in-crime law .

We see this paradox more dramatically in schools, where children learn at an early age the duality of a culture that teaches them to point and hide with the same finger. From there, another “culture” or practice derives (about which I’ll write shortly), that of “my-son-didn’t-do-it.” These children grow up and become teachers, lawyers, doctors, politicians and military. I think we can answer from this process the rhetorical question of why or how the country became so corrupt.

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