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Monday, June 13, 2011

PEOPLE & VOICES - Crossing Borders

By Tracy J. Thomas


Fear breeds fear. Fear of the unknown causes paralysis of the brain which can result in an inability to make logical, conscious decisions based on fact. Special interest groups, religions and politicians use it all the time to stir the emotions of the most gullible in order to pass the bills that pad their pockets and strengthen their personal and sometimes bigoted agendas. Truth is often twisted, manipulated or hidden in order to add credence and support to their campaign of fear.

I personally choose to make my own decisions based on fact. I refuse to live my life in a cocoon paralyzed by fear of things that might happen to me. What is the point of life if you are too afraid to experience it? Hiding behind the limiting walls of the what-ifs leads only to a very sad and unfulfilled existence. The world is an interesting, beautiful place filled with amazing human beings and I want to know them.

The last few years we have been bombarded with press surrounding the drug wars in Mexico. Fear-mongers have used those reports to twist the truth and fuel the fire of hatred and bigotry towards a group of human beings who are undeserving of such tongue-lashing and blatant lies. The “gullibles” have chosen to fall into a space of fear unsupported by fact. This saddens me deeply. It is my wish that more people would choose to face their own fears and open themselves up to experience the world first hand; not through the virulent spouting of some special interest group, but with their own eyes, ears, and skin. It is from personal experience and interaction that we reach an understanding of others. It is with this new-found understanding that we can begin to stand up for the rest of humanity that flourishes outside our own borders.

Last week I flew to Yuma, Arizona and then drove across the border into Baja, Mexico. I wasn’t shot or killed, nor did I ever once feel threatened. I saw thousands of American citizens doing the same thing and having a wonderful time mingling with the Mexican people, enjoying the beauty that country has to offer. I laughed with my parents and their group of friends who all have houses in Baja as they recounted their journeys up and down the length and width of the peninsula. None of them have ever felt remotely threatened and they have been doing this for years.

I was moved by the Mexican people in the same way I have always been moved whenever I have journeyed there. I witnessed hard workers and loving families. I saw fishermen who rose every day before dawn and worked until dusk so that their families would be fed. I ate wonderful food in restaurants owned by Mexican citizens, strolled along the Malecón at night and toured the barrio where the reality of poverty created a stark contrast to the azure blue sea and white sands. I fell in love all over again with these beautiful people who always have a kind word and a gentle smile.

I have felt more threatened by my own white, Anglo-Saxon, born-and-bred American next door neighbors who had constant conflict and police intervention with guns drawn than I have ever felt with the Mexican people. Whether they are illegal aliens trying to make a living in the U.S. or those who have welcomed me with open arms when I cross their border, I refuse to buy into the inflated claims and scare tactics of the close-minded. I choose instead to live my life outside the box of mislead propaganda. I choose to touch, and feel, and smell, and taste the world in all its diverse glory so when I finally do die, it can be said, I truly lived.

Tracy J. Thomas is a professional photographer, freelance writer and website designer who serves as Multimedia Director and Photo Editor for the iPinion Syndicate. She is currently finishing her M.F.A. in Documentary Photography at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. More of her work can be viewed on her website: www.tracyjthomasphotography.com or at iPinion: www.ipinion.us.