“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Monday, August 20, 2007

I don't know what to think, but it makes me sad


She was arrested last night after a year of hiding out. A year of making television and newspaper headlines, a symbol of the conflict in this country regarding undocumented immigrants. (A CNN report is here).

Admitedly I really do not know what to think. Except the way this country is going about it seems all wrong and inhumane. I realize that she has broken the law in the way she came here and lived. I also realize that desperate people do desperate things. And it seems so narrowly focused to make this about people who are just trying to have a chance at living a healthy life. I was appaled at one response on television which went something like, "Good. One down, thirteen million to go." We are a country built on the despair, the sorrow of people looking for a new life, new hope, a chance. So. It seems to me we ought to go about this differently.

For instance. Why not consider how we can work to help make living conditions in Mexico, and othe countrys, more sustainable and healthy. That way people won't feel desperate and take risks doing illegal things. Why not encourage the global market to pay people in Mexico a living wage. Boycott companies that take advantage of poor people. Why not buy only Fair Trade products so that farmers and artists and others make a living wage. Yes, buying Fair Trade costs more, so, we can buy less but buy better.

That's just one tiny example I am aware of. I know the situation is complex. But we are minimizing it and redirecting the real problem when make a scandal out of the life and choices on individuals. The real issue is so much bigger, deeper, entrenched, and involves all of us. I think we are all contributing to the cause of undocumented immigrants. We are all to blame with the way we live - the food we eat, the clothes we buy, the market industry we support.

I don't know what should happen to this woman, her son, and others like them. In my heart I think we are being too tough on her and others. But many people I know feel other wise, and have good arguments for doing things the legal way. I know I live by my heart and with compassion. I know am on the side of women and children and the marginalized. I'm an idealist and an optimist. I feel like we have so much in this country and sometimes we are just too selfish and self serving.

Mostly though I think that if we want to solve the problem of Illegal Immigrants, then let's get at the real heart of the problem. Let's take a cold hard look at the global enconomy, world industry, and how we choose to spend our money. I wonder if that would make the headlines?