July - Sept 2002, Spain

What Happened to Spain and the Spaniards?

By Lidia Ingah

There is a human tendency to follow others in order to fit in a social group or community. This eye-blinded tendency not only lowered humans to the level of animals but also makes humans unhappy. Men and women are naturally thinkers and can generally sense the difference between the good and the bad. As a result, if we do not do what our conscious mind rationally thinks is right, then we disrespect ourselves and a feeling of shame and discontent about ourselves develop. This “going against ourselves” to mimic others has happened and is happening in many communities repetitively. Even worse, this irrational imitation is leading to a chaotic society. A clear example of this type of society is Spain today.

I was born and raised in Mallorca, Spain, and for many years I analyzed the features of this potentially great society. Spaniards are known for being very accommodating and welcoming to foreigners, but the reality is that they have a lazy and passive attitude to communicate their will. They would rather agree to the newcomers’ requests than make an effort to stand up for the defense of their values and way of life.

Every time, I go to Spain to visit my family, my parents inform me of how many people have died in driving accidents due to excessive ingestion of alcoholic drinks. Also, I have noticed a great number of Spaniards dying from cancer and heart disease. This fact is not surprising, since they love to eat barbecued pork ribs, smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and take other illicit drugs.

All these toxic killers’ victims are well aware of how pernicious alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and pork fat consumption are to their health; but they still ingest them. These people are basically killing themselves consciously. Slowly but surely, they are making themselves physically sick.

To the development of diseases cause by physical toxins, we have to add the mental sickness that so many Spaniards suffer. It is not unusual to see young people trying to fight their profound depression. They do not like their life styles, they do not like themselves, but they do not know how to change or what to change to be happier. They feel empty, lost, and sad. Many Spaniards do not believe in God, although they were raised Catholic. They are taught just to believe what the priest says because you are supposed to. They are unable to question anything at a philosophical level. Basically, they are raised to believe what the church preaches and not to worry about thinking too much. This educational system is translated also to all school subjects; that is, the teacher says what the student have to say and think, and the student memorizes and repeats it . Just like a parrot. No brain is required, no ability to choose is required, no understanding is required and, as a result, Spaniard children become order-following machines. Unable to say “no” to something they feel is not right or say “yes” to what they want. Spaniards are not allowed to have their individuality, to work hard to fight for what they believe needs to be changed, to feel fulfilled and happy about themselves. Everything is decided for them. They just need to imitate. Easy task but destructive to their well-being.

Although I am a Spaniard and attended Catholic schools and university, I have always hated to be a follower. I love to decide on my own and act accordingly with what I think is right. I am a very rational type of person, lucky enough to have exceptional parents who accepted that with me the traditional “do it just because I said it” did not work I could never accept that Jesus was God or that all humans beings are born sinners because of the actions of Adam and Eve. God is not human, and I am only responsible for my own actions. Therefore, although I have always been a very religious person, Catholicism just did not make sense to me.

Years after my college graduation, I traveled to California for the first time; and I met who is today my husband, a Muslim student from Indonesia. It was through him that I learned about Islam and how my country had been Muslim for as long as eight centuries (8th to 15th century after Christ). During those years, Muslim Spain, also called Al Andalus, was a very flourishing society. Education was encouraged to all in order to find answers to life’s questions that will let the members of the community to fulfill their desire for understanding things, develop a strong sense of self-esteem, and ultimately, to develop happiness and inner peace. Also, in Al Andalus men and women alike felt very responsible to take care of themselves at a health level: not eating pork, not drinking alcohol, not taking other drugs, nor doing anything that would endanger a person’s health. It was clear to Muslims in Spain that those things were very harmful to them and that the consequences of them would negatively affect the rest of the community: wild and aggressive behavior due to use of alcohol or other drugs and development of deadly diseases as a result of eating pork.

Spaniards in Al Andalus simply loved their lives too much to harm themselves. Moreover, and most importantly, they all had a profound belief in the existence of a main power, a creator of all nature’s creatures, all mighty and powerful, infinitely loving, compassionate and just. This belief provided them with the foundation to live a wonderfully happy life, and to value it, and to be grateful for it, as well as to try to become the best human beings they could possibly be. Everyday they would take time to reflect about their lives and how to improve them, and to ask for guidance and to give thanks for all they had. This was achieved by their five daily prayers that would empower them with a feeling of being loved and protected that can only be understood for those who perform them. Muslim Spaniards had a taste of paradise on Earth. Thank God, they were able to understand and follow the right way of life. Maybe, one day Spaniards will revise their history, and they will learn from their ancestors how to live their lives happily. God-willing.