You know...it's all in how we frame things...our culture is rife with 'terminology' and 'spin'. For example, people work for corporations that operate and hopscotch all over the globe and we breezily call these huge companies 'Multi-Nationals'. We understand that economic entities need to roam the world to grow and survive. Sometimes humans need to do that as well. Let's call THEM 'Multi-Nationals' too.
I met this man in the deportee center in Nogales. Notice the logo on his sweatshirt! It is internationally recognizable...because money, corporations, food and goods now move freely all over the world. We accept that we live in a smaller and smaller, more and more connected world. And yet, we still argue over, and restrict the movement of, 'human capital'. Humans migrate for the very same reason that birds migrate...to save their lives. And the reason that humans try to migrate again and again, is that the reasons propelling them still exist: Multi-national corporations have taken over their farms and factories, a family member needs medical care, kids need schooling, and everyone is hungry. It is ironic that the sweatshirt and its maker are allowed to roam the globe freely, but this valuable human-being is criminalized for trying to find honest work in the rich country that borders his own.
One of the things that you see, as you walk the migrant trails out in the desert, is "the casting off of things" that no longer support and serve the journey. The jettisoned artifacts attest to the fact that there is a universality evident in what people pack to 'go on a trip'. And then there comes that point, when you realize that you actually need fewer things then you thought. You don't want to 'lug' that much 'stuff' along with you...you might not 'make it'...it will surely slow you down...it is NOT LIFE GIVING.
This "saint" started "The Green Valley Samaritans". Green Valley is a little town in the desert just a short distance from the Mexican border where lots of older Americans have retired to enjoy the sunshine and the golf courses. Anyway, this small-statured, super-energetic woman found out that people were dying trying to cross the desert near her, AND SHE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! She organized a group that actively searches for people, and provides water, medical care, and clothing. I have personally watched as she pleads with immigrants to "cuidado" (be careful) out there, and tells them that the Sonoran Desert is "muy peligroso" (very dangerous). And, in spite of all of the difficult things that she has seen, she exudes joy. I think that her joy comes from a long-time place of doing 'good' in the world...because when I asked her about 'why' she did what she did, she said, "Oh, I am from Berkeley, Calif and social services that I helped start 30-40 years ago, are still functioning" Big Smile. In the 'Litany of the Saints' last night we sang a phrase over and over, "Save My People". I think maybe 'joy' comes from at least trying.
NAFTA. You've heard of it but you are not sure what it is. Me either. In the 1990s the "North American Free Trade Agreement" opened the borders of all of North America to the flow of products and money. That sounds good doesn't it? It was good... if you were the wealthy of the North American continent. Not so good, if you were a small farmer whose family had been making a decent living on a family farm for generations...and that farm stood in the way of a huge agri-business gobbling up your land to set up a huge mechanized farm to bring cheap produce to a Wal-mart or Super-Target near you. Or say your little family farm was sitting on a stockpile of precious minerals....those could be mined for millions to improve the lives of "first-world" folks even further. So, you have been kicked off your land...you have got to find a place where there is work and money to feed your family.....
This "saint" works tirelessly with The Samaritans (Los Samaritanos). "Since July 1, 2002, Samaritans have been a voice of compassion, a healing presence in the Arizona desert. It is an organization comprised of people of conscience and faith who render humanitarian aide to migrants in distress in the Tucson sector of the Arizona/Mexico border. In the desert, if a person is actively exerting himself, (and the coyotes/paid guides ARE hustling them along), he needs 15.5 liters of water per day to stay hydrated. There is no way that a person can carry that much water. Dehydration also makes a person more prone to hypo- and hyperthermia. Then, to further compound problems, immigrants get huge, foot-encompassing blisters that render them unable to 'keep up' so they are abandoned in the desert by the coyotes. IF they can continue, they often become lost, succumb to the elements, and die. The woman pictured above, hikes the trails searching for lost immigrants, puts water alongside the remote ever-changing paths that immigrants take, educates others about the immigrant plight, and has co-authored a book titled 'Crossing With The Virgin' (by Kathryn Ferguson, Norma Price and Ted Parks). She also owns a dance studio and teaches belly dancing. Oh glorious, myriad, diverse saints among us!
This young man is tall, blond, and has green eyes. He is from Guatemala and I met him at a deportee center in Nogales. He stands out from the others because of his different coloring and stature. The other men tease him because he has light eyes, light hair, and he is tall. He is testimony to the fact that people are moving all over the globe. He is good-natured with the teasing, and claims that his small daughter in Guatemala looks just like him. He may not physically resemble his fellow deportees, but here how he is the SAME as all the other men and women in the center: He looks dazed, exhausted...and determined. He, (like all the others) has a family far away that is counting on him to find work and find a way to care for them.