Chiapas – Part 2

Sarah and I managed to have many wonderful conversations while she was down here with me in sunny old Mexico. I got the opportunity to fully catch up with her on her life and her career. I don’t think any parent could be any more blessed or proud of how their child has turned out than me.

She views the world in a critical way much like her old man. I get to take not all but some credit for that as when she approached me years ago for college money I took an unconventional approach. I looked her straight in the eye (just like she did me when she asked for money) and said, ‘Sure. But keep in mind if you accept my money, I’m your business partner.’

That changed our father/daughter relationship for the better. What I think I successfully demonstrated to her in that and subsequent conversations was while I accepted her as a mature thoughtful young woman, I was still challenging her to earn her money. There were no free handouts. You accept my money then there was accountability. I also told her I would only fund a science degree which kicked off a long and meaningful discussion of science programs.

Now keep in mind I wasn’t talking to some slacker child who didn’t take her science and math in high school. The kid took all college prep classes and then graduated valedictorian. But making her search through the different sciences for her university program made for some very interesting discussions that we both enjoyed.

I told her on that first day when she approached me – her divorced dad who had an extremely contentious relationship with her mom – to ‘Never confuse what you like (journalism?) with what you need to learn to earn a good living in this world.’

So now here she is nine years running with a final year to go before she earns her PhD in Cellular Biology. She got her undergrad degree in Bio-Chemistry and her Masters degree in Systems Engineering. Am I proud of her? Damn straight.

So when she looks at the world around her she views what she sees as complex interrelated systems. Same as me. I wonder why things work the way they do. I mentioned in the last ‘Chiapas’ post that I don’t believe in coincidence or luck. Dig deep enough into anything and you’ll find answers. If you don’t then maybe you’re asking the wrong questions.

We live in a highly rational universe my friend. Complex and mysterious perhaps but in time imminently solvable. We just need to discover the right questions to ask. The right subsystems to parse. The right tests to perform.

So we were in Chiapas and noticed together all of the signs that spoke to smoke free buildings and that kicked off a very serious question of ‘What exactly precipitated the change?’ I am not talking about smoke free buildings. I am talking about Sarah’s observation that way fewer Mexicans smoked cigarettes these days than people back in the states.

I just now looked up ‘the world map of countries by cigarettes smoked per adult per day’ and I was surprised to see that three times as many North American adults smoke cigarettes as here in Mexico.

Okay. That’s statistics but the question remains, why? And what event or chain of events led to that national behavioral change? What exactly was it that caused a majority of Mexican’s to forsake cigarettes? Mexico is ranked 112th on the list while the US is ranked 51st. It should be the other way around given such meaningful correlations as education and whatnot.

Forty-fifty years ago lots and lots of people smoked. And everywhere. I know because I was one of them. But I sensibly gave up smoking at the age of twenty-five which was probably the single smartest thing I ever did for my health.

But that’s one individual and I quit because I knew the damn things would kill me just like they ended up killing my dad at 56. And [more scary] his dad at 56.

But what turned an entire nation around?

Something to think about, right?

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