Christmas message from December 2015, as relevant today as it was then, perhaps more so.
World leaders have spent the last three years building walls, metaphorically and legally, to stem the tide of refugees. Donald Trump is demanding Congress cough up the money for his wall along the southern US-Mexico border, and now he’s closed down the U.S. government until they do. (Remember his campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall?)
The absurdities are limitless. We (meaning the colonial Western powers) preach free trade and no economic barriers, knowing the benefits flow primarily in one direction — ours.
We export our military and new-fangled weapons of hideous destruction to countries and people who have no means to resist our “gifts” of democracy.
We lock people up for years behind economic, political and cultural blockades (occasionally dropping cluster bombs and white phosphorous on them) because they don’t behave as we tell them they should. They refuse to obey.
Meanwhile, we continue to shop for the latest fashions, attend the posh parties, gush over every theatrical production, and toast to the New Year. The hypocrisy of all hypocrisies is that we believe we can live our lives free from the mayhem and chaos WE have spread throughout the world; that our selfish, malevolent actions have no consequences!
Until our leaders grasp the “cause and effect” of our exploitations abroad, we will continue to see desperate people fleeing desperate circumstances of our own making.
The human spirit seeks life. I also believe the human spirit seeks to help those in need.
That’s why Somer Sood, a California mother, created a nonprofit to bring backpacks to refugee children in Greece, along with some joy and dignity.
That’s why an American lawyer from Hawaii founded Advocates Abroad to provide legal assistance to refugees in Greece.
That’s why Sayrah Namaste, a New Mexico mother, regularly goes to the US-Mexico border to help refugees there.
And that’s why Judy Werthein, an Argentinian artist, created a new brand of shoes in 2005. (Brinco means jump in Spanish) She distributed the trainers free of charge to people attempting to cross the border in Tijuana, Mexico. At the same time, just over the border in San Diego, she sold the shoes as ‘limited edition’ art objects for over $200 a pair. Wertheim donated part of the money she raised to a Tijuana shelter helping the migrants.
Today, they are on display in London at the Tate Modern Art Museum.
The trainer’s design includes eagle motifs inspired by American and Mexican national symbols, and an image of Saint Toribio Romo, the patron saint of Mexican migrants. The shoes also feature a torch, a compass and pockets to hide money and medicine. Printed on a removable insole is a map of the border area around Tijuana.
Werthein had the Brinco trainers produced cheaply in China. Many global companies manufacture products in countries where labour is cheap and often poorly regulated. The artist hopes to draw attention to how easily goods move between countries, compared with the strict regulations around the movement of people. The same governments that allow the import of cheap goods from overseas often strictly control, and actively discourage, migrants from entering the country in search of better living conditions.
Lora Lucero’s spirit wants to help refugees. Today it may be as little as purchasing and donating a cot to the shelter and shipping it to Las Cruces. Here is the address for shipping: Project Oak Tree 1280 Med Park Drive Las Cruces, NM 88005.
Tomorrow? I hope I find the answer I’m searching for in 2019 — how can Lora best help the refugees seeking safety and security?