I went on vacation feeling a burden and saddened by the misfortune of many immigrants who daily have to endure threatening situations in order to survive in the United States.

The things that I keep hearing are: “We came to make a living. There is nothing back in Mexico”; “I came here ten years ago to make some money to have my business in Guerrero, and you see, I am still here”; “I have nothing back in Aguas Calientes, all my relatives and most friends are here now”.

Every individual had a very good reason to come. Some of those reasons sound urgent and necessary; others are more fueled by greed and competition than based on real need.

When I listen to some of the immigrants, most of them already had a house or some land back home. Others have already built a second floor or another house. Some even left their houses closed and came here to work for more.

There is a difference between those who have come exiled, running for their lives and having experienced persecution and armed violence.

Others came because by contrast with the technological gadgets offered here, they felt they had nothing.

How many times have we spent our time, earning money hoping to have time to spend?

And how many times have we over spent in things we really did not need but now we have to pay for, and spend more of our precious time to pay for them?

I feel that I came from the land of plenty. Mexico is a place where the natural beauty of its land along with the wonderful disposition and generosity of the people, make it difficult to believe that anyone would wish to leave the country.

We met people at the market place, the street, and stores who wanted to share and talk not only about selling or business; but they wanted to talk about their life and their thoughts.

Is Mexico poor? Are any of the third world countries poor? Where does the raw material for most of the products come from? Is their land rich? Does their country produce enough to feed their own and even export to others? Are the people uneducated? Are they aware of their rich ethnic and cultural background, ingrained in their food, and manner of speech? Have they forgotten about their celebrations, family ties and ways of doing things?

Where is their poverty? Is each one supposed to have an I pod, a personal TV set, and all those technical appliances that make people so happy in the first world? Is the first world really happy?

I always remember a campesino woman from Colombia, who after looking at all the refrigerators, t.v sets and other appliances that were brought to their town’s market place, exclaimed: “I didn’t know I was poor!”

When did the Latino people find out that they were poor? And who is selling them happiness? The question for each individual in this new year is: Am I poor? How poor? And what am I lacking? How much of my life am I willing to spend to pursue all those material things until I buy time to grow spiritually?

Maybe the time has come for many to go back home, to where the richness is.