Without giving too much detail, last evening I slept in the home of a family with roots that reach all the way to Oaxaca, Mexico. I listened as the husband spoke in his second language, the third being English and the first being Mixteco, as he recounted his story of crossing the US border.
I am certain that any human, and if we can agree that one of the things that makes us human is empathy, who heard his story would have looked at the somber man and felt sympathy for him. I asked him, “What was it on that particular day when you left your village that led you to take your first step?”
“I just decided, ‘I’m going today.’ I wanted to improve my life. I wanted to make my family’s life better. That is possible in America. There is so much opportunity here. I tell my kids everyday, ‘you have to go to school. You have to study hard. Learn English and speak it well, but don’t forget your Mixteco and Spanish too.’ I don’t want them to have to work like I do, out in the cold in winter and heat in summer…I want them to have a better life than I’ve had.”
His final thought resonated within me. I laid in the bed they offered, in their house without heat because they couldn’t afford a furnace, wrapped in a blanket and with layers of fleece on my upper torso and a winter hat on my head, and thought to myself:
Lady Liberty’s torch still shines bright. The dream of America is still alive.