Part of growing up is probably shedding old dreams. Like a change of skin, one has to acknowledge that old words do not constitute a reality forever.
Today I feel that I misled my ENL students when I told them that in the United States everyone has rights, no matter what his status may be; just because they are individuals, that makes them worthy of civil rights. When I talked to them, I was painting a picture of a generous people coming from all over the world, settling here and knowing that others would want to enjoy the same advantages they once had.
Because I was raised in Latin America I always knew of the law being present to protect those who have more money or power. Legal rights in those countries are almost unattainable unless you know somebody, or can pay well for your freedom.
Maybe I was influenced by the movies, or the books but I thought that the US was different. Here people had elections to choose somebody to represent them and if they disagreed with some issue they would gather popular strength to demonstrate; and they were heard until things changed.
Lately, My dreams have been shattered. I have seen tens of thousands of people go out to the streets to demonstrate against a war that most people know is the real ruin of the country. It is not only that people want peace. They also know that their hard earned money is being spent by the military instead of covering needs or creating opportunities here. But there has been no answer from the elected officials. That is another dream that has to face reality.
In order to be an elected politician, you need lots of money; therefore you sell you principles to those who endorse you, the big businesses. So it´s not that different from the Third World countries where some families take turns to rule, while the large majority pays for their mistakes and luxuries.
But as I said before, in our countries, even the campesinos know that is a fact of life. Here many still believe that they are going to be heard.
My heart drops when I hear of more committees, agendas and demonstrations that only help to calm the anxiety of the good souls who organize them but do not even tickle the core of the systemic problems.
Pretty soon the people here will lose faith in their power as in other countries others have. Maybe that is why the absenteeism keeps growing during election time. After all, the general public is starting to know that those who nominate and elect with the big dollars are the ones who will rule, make the laws, and will pay for security to enforce the laws that benefit them. So why bother, if there is not going to be any change?
I do not dare tell the local immigrants they can expect to be treated fairly. I only hope that their Latino resilience before adversity increases their survival techniques. I know they can rely in their inner strength and family circles. Once more they have to be able to support each other and move their lives forward. Their work and love of life will continue to be the light wherever they are.