How exactly do you cope with the very real (but unreal) fact that 49 decapitated bodies were found on the side of a road or that your country has a murder training camp? Shrug it off, apparently, as some Mexicans have according to The New York Times.
In a report from Mexico today, The Times' Randal Archibold and Damien Cave examine the emotional climate in Cadereyta Jimenez, Mexico in the wake of the latest Mexican drug war atrocity: 49 headless, hand-less, foot-less bodies found on a road there this week. What Archibold and Cave found isn't unlike the message in many post- 9/11 New York narratives, in that there's a sense of citizens wanting to return to normal. But since drug war violence happens so often in Mexico (seriously, they dangle bodies from highway overpasses) , people develop a "learned helplessness" and simply stop discussing the gory instances and learn to do things like order Avengers tickets, make out when two headless bodies are found, eat burgers or have their children frolic down the road from where those 49 bodies were found. “It’s a phenomenon we’ve observed when rats are exposed to uncontrollable electric shocks," María Antonia Padilla Vargas, a coordinator of a nonprofit psychological research group told The Times. And "learned helplessness" apparently, sounds a lot like being jaded:
“We know nothing is changing — it just goes on,” said Imelda Santos, 17, who was out enjoying a fast-food hamburger with friends. “We try not to worry too much because we are not involved.”
That perception — it’s them, not us — appears to play a large role in people’s ability to remain disaffected despite the carnage. “For a lot of Mexicans, the big impulse is ‘Well, that’s just too bad, but at least we got rid of the bad guys,’ ” said Jorge Castañeda, a former presidential candidate. “That contributes to the jadedness.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.