A Very Costa Rican Privilege
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
When I was a child my grandpa was my hero. All around, I heard and read stories of his past and the poverty he experienced. I learned of his work, his brilliance and his service. But what I learned the most was his love for his town and family.
In the entrance of the Costa Rican Women's clinic stands a quote by Ryochi Sasakawa: "Dichosa la madre costarricense que sabe que su hijo al nacer jamás será soldado." (Blessed is the Costa Rican mother who knows that at birth her son will never be a soldier). We Costa Ricans love our country and such phrases,abound. But as a resident of Europe, Sasakawa's word routinely enter my mind.
It is true. My mom was blessed knowing I would never experience war. But so am I in other ways. As a member of the global south, Costa Rica has been less involved in the Northern wars. Growing up, I never had to think about or deceive myself about my grandpa or people in his generation having outlived other army men in war. I never had to wonder if the people around me had been in cross fire. I never had to wonder if they every tried to kill for their nation or work to help their nation kill more efficiently. I could love and not need to wonder.
I realize now that not needing to tarnish the image of my grandpa or the people in his generation is an immense privilege I grew up with. A privilege that some in other nations share but that Costa Rica due to the lack of army and neutral status might keep in the long run. Blessed indeed was I to be born Costa Rican.
PS: Other Costa Rican privileges include:
Constantly hearing: "That's nice, why did you leave paradise?" after people ask for your nationality
Having people either tell you that loved their visit to your country or how visiting your country is in their bucket list
Costa Rican nature
PPS: A translated version of this post was published in La Nación on November 3, 2022.