Opening Your Eyes
I often catch myself watching shows about border patrol.
I watched “Border Wars” for the first time a few weeks ago and ever since then, when I see that it, or any other show like it is on, I must watch it from start to finish.
Today, the episode was about a group of immigrants from Mexico and different parts of South America and South Asia trying to get into America. There was one guy from Sri Lanka, who had travelled for two months. He flew from Sri Lanka to Guatemala, Guatemala to Brazil,Brazil to Mexico, and then made the rest of the voyage on foot with the rest of the group.
When asked how much he paid to be smuggled into America, he said “$18,000.” The other members of the group were also asked how much they paid, and many of them said similar figures, the lowest being $10,000.
Their voyage ended in a takedown by the border patrol agents who capture immigrants seeking illegal entry into America for a living. I could not help but think about what this says about the circumstances these people face in their native countries.
After this takedown, the show featured a mother and daughter who had been left behind the group they were being smuggled into America with. The woman was from Ecuador. After finding a group of people that were headed for America, her and her daughter joined them. She told the “guide” (the person that smuggles them) that her daughter had asthma, and he assured her that they would only be walking for two hours and that they would be considerate of her. But when they finally crossed the border, the guide told her that they faced another seven or eight hours of walking ahead of them.
“I got scared,” she said. My heart broke for her.
Her daughter could not keep up. She had an asthma attack and fainted. She stopped, and the rest of the group carried on, forgetting that she and her daughter had been there in the first place. Her and her daughter wandered in the bush for two days until being picked up by border patrol, both of them with twisted ankles, empty stomachs, and broken souls.
The officials looked up her file and seen that she had been in America in October of 2002 seeking asylum. “The court process took very long, and the attorney they appointed me from the state didn’t show up. He didn’t come to see us, come to speak to us, nothing.”
The woman and her daughter were deported back to Mexico, where they had settled after being sent back from America in 2002.
I couldn’t help but feel guilty, almost, for having all that I do, while this woman and her poor, breathless daughter, had nothing. It really put things into perspective for me.
When I watched this show today, I realized that my problems, my fears, don’t exist for some people, simply because they don’t even have the resources to have such problems.
Today, watching the news, I learned about the circumstances in Somalian refugee camps. The women face sexual and physical abuse by the people that are supposed to be providing them with asylum, the people they entrusted to help them.
One man described the story of his daughter being raped, in which he could do absolutely nothing because of the consequences he and his entire family would face. Women that are up to eight months pregnantare being raped and beaten on a daily basis.
After an 8 hour shift today, I was walking into my house and I stopped to look up at the moon. I saw that it was full and bright and covered in a beautiful mist of clouds. I couldn't help but notice how tiny I really was. The sight made me think about how small I was, how small I am, in the grand scheme of things and in the grand scheme of the world.
More than feeling small as a person, though, I thought about how small my “problems” were. I thought about how mad I got the day before when I had written a 2,000 word essay that didn’t save. I thought about how angry I was that I would have to re-write it, which really only took me less than an hour when I got home. I thought about how small my “fears” were. My fear of not passing a class, or becoming the journalist I intend to be. I’m afraid I won’t get a new car by the end of the year. I’m afraid of not having enough money.
I’m afraid of all these things that in my eyes, are worthy of being afraid of, until I really open them and see the rest of what is out there.
Life can be a very humbling experience if we live it the right way. If we open our eyes to the things the world has to show us; the things that the world can show us, it can be a beautiful spectacle even in times of tragedy.
When I saw all the things I saw today, and learned all that I had learned, and thought about that one simple image of the moon toward the end of my night, I became fearless. I was afraid of not having enough when really, I already had everything that I needed, and believing I needed anything more was an insult to the people my mind had met that day; the Sri Lankan man that travelled for two months only to be sent back home, the woman and her daughter that got sent back to a place they fought so relentlessly to escape, and to the Somalian man and his innocent daughter who could not even fight to defend her.
The world is a big place. And as big as you think you are, as big as you think all your problems and all your fears might be, I encourage you tolook up at the moon and the stars and remember all that is out there. There is a lot beyond just you. And there is a world inside of the night sky that seems empty except for the stars that scatter here and there. The sad reality is that it is the beautiful backdrop of a very ugly reality for a sickening amount of people. Luckily for you, your reality is beautiful, just like you.
This is just a simple reminder to count your blessings. Almost like you would count the stars. If they ever become hard to see, which they do sometimes, just open your eyes and look a little harder.