Watershed | Borderland
Today, I traveled to the Rio Grande. That site of so much tension and pain. The place once describe by Gloria Anzaldúa as an open wound where the third world grates against the first and bleeds.
Except, not here.
Because I stood on the shores of this notorious river in Colorado instead of Texas, both sides of the river are the United States and have been since the Mexican-American war in 1848. This river is not a border in the place I stood for no other reason than we colonized both sides of it here and only one side of it down in Texas.
Up here folks cross every day going about their business, doing life across the landscape as though it were one – because it is. Down there, landscapes and communities are being carved in two by walls built in hearts and on hill sides.
Up here there was no checkpoint on the bridge where cars sped by. Down there, refugees wait in pens for weeks.
Up here, families cross the river every day for work and for pleasure. Down there, families try to do the same for pretty much the same reasons, but with the added motivation of fleeing fear and violence.
Up here no one cares who comes or goes. Down there, if you cross the river ICE will rip your family apart and throw you in cages.
Same river. Two realities. One land served by the same precious waters. One land that was seized from its original People’s. Two nations divided by arbitrary swerves in history, rent in their separate directions as the US rose in capitalist imperialism, radicalized by the violent anxieties of whiteness.
It is some kind of sickness that says the same river can be both these things, both so geopolitically inconsequential and diabolically penultimate.
As my Jewish friends say, we have a calling to Tikkun Alum: to heal the world. Healing can only begin when we cease doing violence. And it begins when we heal those broken things in ourselves that lead us to violence. It leads us to build structures that forge peace from restorative justice and mutual relationships.
These were my prayers as I watched the river peacefully gurgle by.