Gringo in Guadalajara

Cross the City

A cross erected at a construction site in Guadalajara.

A cross on a crane above the city.
A characteristic of the culture of Guadalajara is its oneness in spirit.  Of course this is a positive result of a society that is largely uniform with little obvious diversity.  Mexico is Mexican, at least at first glance.  Differences of opinion and station among Mexicans becomes apparent once you've been here for awhile, but at least compared to the United States, this is a country with little diversity.  Perhaps as a result, Mexico is a society that sometimes makes assumptions about a uniformity in beliefs that we are not used to in the U.S. At least in Blue-State America, we have become very careful with our religious symbols.  If a government tries to place the Ten Commandments or a Nativity Scene in a public place, you can be sure that all hell will break loose.  We Americans are also careful in our personal interactions these days..."Happy Holidays" has largely replaced "Merry Christmas," for instance --- at least when dealing with strangers.

Of course, Mexico is a Catholic country and as such, religious symbols are ubiquitous. Nativity scenes abound in the malls during the Christmas season and the government is happy to promote the many churches here as the main attraction to tourists.  One sees crosses everywhere.  They loom above the construction sites (apparently to help ward off accidents), they are outside many public buildings and one even finds them in places you would never expect...for instance, a cross hangs above the door at my local 7-11.  While the assumption that we are all Christians here in Guadalajara can feel rather exclusionary to a Jew, Buddhist, Muslim or non-believer, it also results in a unity of spirit that perhaps is missing with the emphasis of diversity in the United States. []