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In my dreams and nightmares, I keep coming back to those eight intense days in five states along the border.

In my dreams and nightmares, I keep coming back to those eight intense days in five states along the border — after nearly a half century of crisscrossing it — and it still feels like a changling, a chimera to me.

Is it a hard surface of discontinuity, with a sharp division of opportunities on either side of its sheet metal walls, its Normandy barriers, its anti-ram concrete blockades, its bollards and barbed wire fences? Or is the sharpness I feel at the border merely psychological, brought on by the economic disparities between the two sides, the differences in exposure to poverty, violence and oppression?  Or are the people who live on both sides of the boundary one and the same, but the mechanic on the south side gets only a tenth of the wages as the one on the north for do the very same work? Or is the border a selective filter, helping only a few of the wealthier mothers from the South who have children in need of surgery get across to “el otro lado” to a good hospital, while thousands more are stopped when they seek the best possible future for their ailing babies?

Do we pray the same way, ache the same way, laugh the same way, dream the same way and love the same way, but simply die for different reasons?

What unites us across all boundaries, all divisions of class, in this ecotone of hope and despair? WHERE DO YOU STAND THERE?

Gary Nabhan

 

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