-The Never-Told Story -
A widespread prejudice, dating from I don't know when, is that an individual who goes barefoot is necessarily a tramp, antisocial and homeless, sad and disappointed of life ... ah, and possibly with some mental disorder! A so pathetic picture that even looks like a cartoon ... and it is, indeed.
About the precise origin of the cliché, it's something to be unraveled by Cultural History, but pending the result, same image but putting it shoes, radically changes its meaning even for the most uncompromising in terms of attire, transforming itself into the most finished expression of a deep interrogation about EXISTENCE. (In the mid-1960s, in Mexico City and some other not-so-provincial towns, the so-called "existentialists" (beatniks) were fashionable: odd characters who wore everything in black, glasses included - by the way, some go barefoot - and met in certain cafés to discuss and listening jazz music, by that time, the sum of sophistication.)
And this aspect, the existential one, is decisive when adopting barefoot lifestyle, quite effective and compellent way to avoid the influence - ideological, psychological and cultural - of mass to find the own BEING, starting point of "being in the world and society" that each must build for oneself.
Two or three months ago, a lady asked me an interesting question on the street: that if I went barefoot because of “detachment” (?). At first I didn’t understand the meaning, answering that doing so, I felt more free and carefree, but as the conversation progressed, it became clear that it meant detachment from material goods, an objective of certain ascetic-religious conceptions.
But this week, working on this article, motivated by a recent chat with a young man who also cultivates this lifestyle, I “discovered” that it serves to achieve something even more important: ideological detachment, an indispensable condition for accessing an acceptably AUTHENTICAL notion of oneself. It isn't the only way, of course, but it works very well.
And this is where appear individualism, self-realization, being oneself, common concepts in the 70s, but which were abandoned by that of (belonging to a) COMMUNITY, of Jesuit inspiration, the ideological retrievers par excellence of Catholic Church.
This was seen when the Mexican government of the 1970-76 period redirected the youth rebellion not only politic but existential towards Latin Americanism, a kind of extended official nationalism, which released the fishing net a bit only to pick it up firmly afterwards. (Still in 1985, during a meeting of activists of the local public University, someone made a very lucid observation about the behavior and appearance of the Rector and his electoral competitor four years ago, during his student days: “both of them wore huaraches and carried morral, but it wasn't because they were HIPPIES, but they felt inditos.")
Yes, that is why in certain circumstances, going BAREFOOT FOR LIFE is a political act of reaffirmation of one's own individuality, regardless of the affective or economic situation that the person doing so is going through.