God’s Middle Finger

But the largest component of Mexico’s economy was still drug trafficking, estimated at fifty billion dollars a year… without it there would be economic collapse. According to a leaked study conducted in 2001 by Mexico’s internal security agency CISEN, and quoted in Charles Bowden’s Down by the River, if the drug business was somehow wiped out Mexico’s economy would shrink by 63 percent. That was never going to happen, of course…

~Richard Grant, God’s Middle Finger

I shuddered when I read these words. Laying in my bed a little over a week ago, after reading the heinous tale about the dark secrets of the Sierra Madre and Mexican life, I tossed and turned and struggled to let go so that I could finally go to sleep. In a few days I would be in the heart of the Sierra Madre, and there I was, laying there, left with a gash in my heart and only tears to fill it back up. 

Grant’s adventure in this untamed land is electrifying, raw, capturing, and disturbing. It is peppered with significant historical accounts and balanced by solid adventure writing. I have been in the safe parts of the Sierra Madre three different times now, but I am not sure if I will ever venture into any of the drug-infested, Narco-ruled villages that he dared step foot into. Although I cannot help but wonder how redemption and justice will reach this land and her people, unlike Grant, I do believe that there is hope for such a lawless land and a violently bred people, even though it is quite difficult to believe when the statistics come flying in one’s face like bullets from an Ak-47. Grant notes the cyclical movement of the drug problems from the tip of the Sierras in Ciudad Juarez, the hub of drug trafficking into the US, through the southern Golden Triangle, the “supposed epicenter for drug production and violence”. And it is immensely more difficult to believe that redemption is possible when reading about Grant’s experiences snorting cocaine with police officers in the grungy bathroom of a sketchy bar, or when one of his Mexican guides tells him, …That is why we don’t believe in the future. We don’t plan and build to make a better future for ourselves because our history and experience teaches us that everything always turns to shit.” 

While we were in the Sierras last week I went for a couple of short runs on the trails that are scratched into the mountains outside of the town of Creel, and even in the dry, cold, and boney months of winter the Sierras are stellar. I stood on scattered boulders on the mountainsides and gazed at the deeply cut valleys and the crags bursting out of the earth, bewildered that such spectacular land could be chalk-full of corruption, pain, death, and caged souls. I wondered if the people of the Sierra remember what it feels like to be free. Grant stated that the “surest way to make things worse in Mexico was to try to improve them”. He rues how after hundreds of police officers around Mexico had been fired for corruption and criminal behavior, it only sent crime waves rolling throughout the country. He writes, “Shorn of their badges and released from the web of patronage that kept them answerable for their actions, the corrupt, predatory cops were not enrolling in architecture schools or starting up Internet cafes. They were plying the only trades they knew-extortion, theft, assassination, kidnapping, drug trafficking-with an even greater ferocity and ruthlessness than before.”

Sometimes it is grueling to swallow truth, especially when it tastes bitter and sour or when it seems like a rock landing in the hollow pit of one’s stomach. Grant had set out on an adventure to “live an eventful, unpredictable life with as much personal freedom as possible, and have a few adventures along the way”, but after some time, several near-death experiences, and exposure to the gross realities of the Sierras, he states, “Here I was getting my kicks and curing my ennui in a place full of poverty and suffering, environmental and cultural destruction, widows and orphans from a slow-motion massacre.”

This book kept me up at night, opened my eyes to the obscene truths about this country, and drove hard and thorny questions into my spirit. Questions like: Why are our Mexican neighbors, our brothers and sisters, in the sticky web that they are in? What are the answers? How many more years will these ridiculous cycles continue?

Links to Buy this book: 5122w3sjb7l_ss500_


Richard Grant

God’s Middle Finger


4 Responses to “God’s Middle Finger”

  1. This will definitely be one of our 9 in O-Nine reads. Deep.

  2. The Marbzz Says:

    Matty, thanks for all the thoughts. Great to hear what God’s been putting on your heart. Even when it’s heavy…You rock, my friend. God Bless.

  3. Uncle Marbs,

    Thanks for the love. I think of you and the gang often. We should talk about getting you all down here sometime.

  4. This blog rocks so far and I’m just on my second post. I just had to comment here because I am currently reading Charles Bowden’s Down by the River. Because my husband read it last summer and shared about it with me, it has already made an impact on me.

    OK, I’m off to continue more reading.

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