Monday, June 12, 2006

A Weekend of Lessons Reaffirmed

Where to begin.

It started as I was driving to my 11 year old cousin's birthday party on Saturday afternoon. The key word is not party, nor Saturday, even though that means I wasn't at work, but rather driving. You see, my truck left me stranded on Friday night when I went to the grocery store to restock on provisions.

I've been living in Tucson for eight years and while I've met some great friends here, most of them were through college and have re-scattered across the world after graduation. There are a few family members here, but I have limited contact with them for personal reasons. So, I found myself at a loss when I realized that there was a real possibility I was stranded in the city I've called home for quite some time.

Within 10 minutes of discovering my vehicle's death, an immigrant gentleman from Mexico came over to me in the parking lot to see if I needed a jump-start. I thanked him profusely and was able to get the truck started but it wouldn't stay running without me keeping the gas pedal depressed. I suspected the alternator, but it turned out to be just a completely dead battery.

The gentleman was my saving angel Friday evening. He even followed me back to my complex to make sure I didn't stall on the way home. It was uninhibited compassion - the kind that transcends borders, or at least it should.

Throughout the drama, I learned that he had been living in Tucson on and off for the past fifteen years but was worried because his father was sick back home and he was afraid that if he crossed back into Mexico, he wouldn't be able to make it back safely to his wife and two children here in the states. His english was fairly good, but I could tell that he was more comfortable speaking spanish so I rambled my way through mutual storytelling in my heart's language.

As I was re-telling the ordeal to my family at my cousin's bday party, I think we spent more time talking about the fact that I characterized my angel as an "immigrant gentleman from Mexico" rather than my near-strandedness. My aunt thought that was the funniest thing she had ever heard in her life. Despite the fact that the Xicano/Mexican American people share the same roots as Mexicanos, there is a plethora of the usage of mojado in conversation. (spanish for wet, in this case 'wetback')

I'm actually glad we had the conversation, even though there was some indignation at calling out family members for their lack of sensitivity, because I was able to use the time to discuss how we (Xicanos) often treat the Mexican people badly, or worse, than some factions of mainstream U.S. North Americans. It's shameful, in my opinion, and at best screams of hypocrisy if we expect to be treated equally in society.

If there's one thing I've learned as I've broadened my sphere of information influences (read: blogs) it's that everyone has their brain in a different place due to their history. That's why I'm big on telling stories. While politics interests me greatly, I am energized by the ways in which it affects lives. I'm equally repulsed when certain policies are destructive. I'm thinking specifically of wall-building, war and torture at the moment.

So how do we change the prevailing winds in the country (and world)? At the moment, I find the climate to be one of suspicion of motives and apathy among the masses. That's several time zones and hemispheres away from a politic and society of generosity, which I think we discuss here everyday.

So, what do you think? How do we do our part in our spheres of influence to grow a coalition of compassion?

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