People in the western hemisphere have agreed that a new year has begun. We have agreed that it will be a new year full of new and exciting opportunities. I wonder if the people who started working at their same low paying jobs on Friday, January 2nd, think the same. I also wonder if after the obligated Christmas expenses, and after a lot of people have incurred debts, do they feel that the future holds something exciting for them. Some individuals buy lottery tickets with the vague hope that luck will change their lives because the system is really not offering any change.

Those who followed the expected Christmas season behavior by spending, played into the urgency of a system that keeps telling us that if “we buy,” Everything will be fine. After all, right after 9/11, that was the clear main direction: “Do not show your fears, just get out and do what you always do: BUY.”

When newcomers arrive in the US they suddenly realize that there are many things to choose from, and there is always something new to buy or improve.The question is: “Is that abundance leading us to freedom, or to slavery?”

I remember a time when families would shop for durability and efficiency.Nowadays we look for the cheapest item and dispose of it at the next season. This experience begins with clothing and shoes and it moves into appliances, cars and even houses. Am I saying that is wrong to improve? No, what I am saying is that it is wrong when we stop living a real life with family and close friends and we go after a vain illusion of “newness”.

When we buy without thinking, we are not benefiting ourselves. We are enlarging the pockets of the factory owners and big retailers.

When we buy the corn products and fruits from agro producers and big industries, we are driving to ruin the peasants in our countries who cannot compete with the big agrarian companies. That was the case of the banana companies in Central America and the case of many Mexican peasants and indigenous people now who cannot compete with the subsidized prices from the US. When the common people in Latin America complain about the situation, it is not that they are communist, guerrillas, or terrorists. They want to be heard because it is their land that is being ruined, it is their life that is being affected.

They probably do not want to be part of the crowd with outstretched hands. They do not want charity as the workers here do not want charity. They only want a decent wage that will allow them a decent life.

If it were not for the influence of unfair trade to other countries, millions of people would not be here as undocumented workers. And once those workers are here, they also have to beg for the right to be treated as human beings with the right to legally drive a car, open a bank account, or manage the money that their employers have paid them.

I hope we can learn to live”today” within our means, maybe in that way we can guarantee a better tomorrow for us and for others as well.