Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going to Nogales

Tucson/Nogales Trip - 5 days ahead

"Don't go across by yourself," says Louise.  "You could get kidnapped.  Sold into sex slavery."

I didn't think going to Nogales was such a big deal.  After all, I've been to India, Paraguay, and the neighborhood in Los Angeles near Florence and Normandie where the 1992 riots started.

But Louise tells me that Arlynne's co-worker's brother was kidnapped from Nogales and forced to work for a drug cartel.  Two years later his body was dumped on the front lawn of his house.

She puts me in touch with friends from Green Valley -Sahuarita Samaritans, Mike Casey and Shura Wallin. 

Mike plugs me into a 6-day a week search schedule, where teams of four volunteers drive around back roads near the border to offer water, food, and medical aid to people trying to cross the Sonoran Desert into the US.

Shura conducts a weekly trip to Nogales to introduce people to El Comedor, the place where newly deported people can eat and figure out where to do from there.  It's run by nuns and Jesuits.  I will miss the trip, always on Tuesdays, but she offers to take me on Thursday. 

I wonder why she's willing to make an extra trip for one stray tourist, but I accept gratefully. 

My usual pattern of traveling first, then learning about the area after I arrive, has been made worse in this case by the Christmas rush and by a case of bronchitis that veered close to pneumonia, but I hope that by next Tuesday I can drive to Tucson.

Finally getting on the internet, I learn that the major groups helping immigrants are:

No More Deaths


Tucson Samaritans and Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans

It turns out I should have been making reservations for these border trips 2-3 months ago.  It's like taking a trek in the Himalayas or getting a campsite and hike into the Grand Canyon.  You don't just show up and do it yourself--you reserve to go with a group way ahead of time.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


The little children in Newtown, Connecticut, were betrayed. 

We loved and cared for them, but we allowed terrible weapons to be owned by their neighbors.

We allowed a mentally ill 20-year-old to gain access to the weapons.  We left his mother to cope on her own with the illness that drove him out of a public high school. 

Where were the support systems for him and for her?  Why were there no visits from social workers, mental health professionals? 

Why were this mother and son so isolated?

We are only as wealthy as the poorest family in our city.  When painful poverty lives next door, whether it's economic poverty or emotional poverty, the wealthy live in danger. 

We are only as healthy as the sickest among us because their illness will infect us all, whether it's tuberculosis or schizophrenia. 

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child.  Newtown was such a village, but one of its childlren was suffering in silence, too sick to cry for help.  

Instead he struck out at the happiness around him.  Like Grendel in the 8th-century epic Beowulf, he felt tormented by the joyful music that came from the great hall where the feast was taking place. 

He killed the innocent whom he perceived as tormentors.  He killed himself.  Thank God he killed his mother--no mother wants to hear the kind of news that would have come had she lived.

When will we ever learn?  When will we ever learn?

For starters, we need to ban assault rifles like the one used in this crime, which has no relation to the "well-regulated militia" envisioned by the framers of the Constitution in the second amendment.

Automatic weapons similar to the AK-47 are being sold legally today.  That's a crime--I mean, it's a crime that owning these weapons is not a crime. 

Retiring Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is calling for a ban on assault rifles.  Let's work together and make this happen.  Chris Murphy, the new Democratic senator from Connecticut, is also calling for change in gun laws.

Meanwhile, paintball versions of the AK-47 are being advertised and sold on the internet.  That's sick.

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