So there I was, minding my own business at a comfortable desk job, when my manager alluded to needing me to cover an extra shift over the next few weeks, while my coworker headed down to El Paso for a job. It was an emergency, and he needed to help with a crisis. So, I’d be required to work overtime - to help out on my end.
Working the additional hours gave me plenty of time to ponder what the fuck was actually happening. El Paso hadn’t entered the news just yet. But, as I begrudgingly worked the 60 hour weeks, I began to see news of separated families, tents, and my co-worker in an “Incident Command” t-shirt. I received word that he was making fat stacks of cash, and was helping load kids into 15 passenger vans, that were scheduled to drive out into the far reaches of the US, without their parents.
Then I felt ill. A bit exploited. And helpless.
My coworker arrived back, jovial with income, and described the event as “an honor to have been a part of.” Meanwhile, depending on the news source you visited, the information was contradictory, inconsistent, and muddled; driving further my feelings of confusion about what I could do, what was real, and how I should feel about the country in which I am inexorably tied.
I made no judgement in regards to his decision. I too have made choices, and compromised my morals for the sake of big money. I too have been hard up, seen on opportunity, and taken it at the expense of others. But, I have felt the repercussions for having made those choices, and will always remember the compromises I have made. And my ride along the US - Mexico border, to raise funds for the families who have been impacted by our actions as a nation, is what I will be doing to balance the actions I have taken on my journey.
I am no expert on Spanish, and I am doing my best to learn, but I came across a phrase I feel summarizes this trip well:
Arrieros somos y en el camino andamos.
Directly, it is: “we are horsemen and we are on the road,” but it roughly translates as: what goes around, comes around - sooner or later the favor may need to be returned. It implies that we are all tied together. That our good actions are good, because we know that, in time, we will need kindnesses extended back to us. I do not give to others because they are lesser than me. I give to others because I need them in my life, and I know I will depend on them in the future.
I do not want to be represented by a wall, separation, or fear. I do not want to continue feeling shame for the ego of my country. I instead what to be a part of a community in which it is acknowledged that we are all connected in life. And we share in the struggle for a common good - helping out when we can, and receiving help when we need it.
Also, I want to thank those who have already contributed to sharing this message, and helping me on this trip! In time, the favor will be returned! Thank you!