Have you ever had a situation that forced you out of your comfort zone? Maybe meeting someone important to your future for the first time? Or maybe you’re looking for a new job that might be a little more difficult than you initially thought. I’m sure you’ve felt that way.
It hasn’t happened to me that often, but I remember a few times where I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to move on or just forget about the whole effort.
I remember putting on a parachute and wondering if I really wanted to jump out of a plane. Anxiety was the only emotion I remember. He knew if he continued he would jump. There were other guys in the tattered old plane who probably had the same thought.
I kept reminding myself that if I finished jump school, I would make another $75 a month. That might not sound like a lot of money, but I was only making $54 a month, so an increase of that magnitude would allow me enough money to be able to go to the movies or buy cigarettes for the month. In other words, I knew there was a better conclusion to my dilemma.
I can’t be sure because other than those emotions, my life wasn’t bad and I didn’t have to make decisions that worried many others. I was alone with my own thoughts, and every time I made a move it was something that just annoyed me.
There are thousands or maybe millions, depending on who you ask, who face these life-changing decisions every day. Decisions that you and I are rarely forced to make. I mean the multitude of refugees who cross our southern border every week seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
Perhaps I have never had to do such an important thought about my life and the lives I feel I am responsible for. If I had, I wouldn’t consider it and the decision wouldn’t be difficult.
When I watch refugees cross a dangerous river to reach the United States, I have a hard time imagining how they must feel. They are locking arms around each other and holding babies close so they don’t get swept away or watch a loved one disappear under the water with the current. The horror they must feel is impossible to contemplate.
Years ago, when my children were very young, I told them that the border between the United States and Mexico would soon cease to exist. While it is not easy to get into the United States from anywhere in the South, it is becoming easier as the border is not guarded as it was in the past.
If a person is caught trying to cross into the United States, hopefully, they are treated as humans. Some are denied entry and others are sent somewhere in the United States. Hopefully they can reunite their families and become productive citizens.
I know that there are those who feel that this influx of people is, for some, difficult to accept. Some think they’re just here to take advantage of our generous government programs, but anyone who lives near farms or meatpacking facilities knows that these people aren’t the ones you see on street corners with a torn piece of cardboard. and asking for spare change. These people are not unlike my mother and father in the early years of their marriage, willing to do almost anything to make sure their family can eat.
I asked farmers in this area and found that the labor problem, although not as bad as in the past, is still difficult to manage. Farmers are trying to find labor through a government program called H2A, where they still have to find labor, as Johnny Cash used to say, “Come harvest time.” There are labor contractors who help, but the work around the farms is still difficult to manage.
There are farmers here in California who try to plant and harvest in such a way that they can employ constant labor. Families that work this way have stable jobs and can make plans about how to educate their children.
I was talking to a farmer who has deep roots here in our valley and he tells me about families who have sent their children to college and that the main reason they are here is so they can do it. I guess all families do this because the family this farmer told me about has kids going to higher education with the goal of becoming a police officer or a doctor or whatever we all wish for our kids.
I cannot condone the idea of people coming to the United States simply ignoring the rules, but as long as our government allows them, I can see a bright future for the children of these immigrants.
I didn’t grow up hungry, but I wasn’t a college candidate either. I think that the men and women who face the danger of trying to cross the Rio Grande, not knowing how to swim or carrying small children during the journey from the south of our hemisphere, are looking for a future. A brighter future than they could find where they came from.
It was desperation that drove me to the recruiting office. He worked on a farm since he was old enough to drive a tractor or water alfalfa. I wanted something different too. Something that agriculture did not offer.
The hand that was extended to me was the service to our country. It was very difficult to succeed because you are responsible for human lives, but I can’t believe it was harder for me than the people who come here to succeed for their families.
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