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Imaginary Lines, #FTSF

It all began with a Facebook post:.

With all the news lately of asylum seekers coming across the border between the U.S. and Canada, in through Manitoba and other places, I can’t help wondering what has made them take such chances. I guess we in Canada aren’t quite as used to it, though we’ve heard all the stories about people from South America and Mexico crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. always.

Humans have always been on the move, but often spurred on by fear and desperation, feeling unsafe where they currently are.
It made me think of the two times I have crossed a border recently.
First it was the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. We crossed by car and I never even would have known we’d crossed into another province because I couldn’t see to read the signs. I soon got out and stood for a time on the border, on the river, with the wind-tunnel blowing my hair every which way. I remained there and thought about a loss I’d newly experienced and how that person had crossed the ocean to come to Canada many years earlier, for different reasons.
I then thought about what makes us draw lines between ourselves and other human beings. I understand why we’ve had to map out these markers between us and other countries and states and provinces. I even understand why some must be watched and even protected/defended, which leaves us frightened we are under a constant threat from other places and people.

The second time was when I crossed, by car, over the border between Canada and the U.S. but I felt so strange leaving my home country, though I wished I didn’t feel any such separation. I then crossed the border between the U.S. and  Mexico, but by plane I once more noticed nothing, until I landed and felt the thrill of being in a country I’d never been in before.

***

All week long, on our nightly National Canadian news, I have watched a series that attempted to answer my question: just who are these asylum seekers, those who feel so unsafe in the U.S. and are now coming so so very far?

I learned it has been somewhere around 140 of them since January 1st of this year, walking for hours in the freezing cold of winter. Some in Canada fear this number will only increase, from a trickle of people to a stream that’s unstoppable, as weather improves and spring arrives.

Well, I thought about the fear I had, not only of my recent writing workshop ending and having to return to my reality, but also I feared having to cross back over the U.S. to get back home to Canada.

I knew, as the end of the week drew nearer how silly it was for me to be afraid. I had no real problems. I still felt unwelcome, even with the kindness I was shown by so many who helped me travel safely through airports in both Dallas and Detroit.

Mexico and Canada and in between, now, is this dark spot, which I realize is totally unfair and uncalled for in many ways. Sometimes, in my mind, I see the continent of North America being carved up, split apart like cracks caused by shifting plates, deep underneath us.

I still can’t believe 45 ever ran on the promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. From the first time I ever heard that ridiculous idea, up to this moment as I write this, I can’t believe it. I know I am not alone. That thing many have said about how we should be building bridges that will connect us, not walls that will separate us even more than a border already does, this is what runs through my mind every single day.

Now, according to the series, there are those fleeing danger and worse in certain African countries and Asian countries, making it all the way to South America, often just as dangerous. This report I saw sent a reporter to investigate and speak to some, mostly from Somalia, who were crossing the border of Guatemala and Mexico’s most southern part. They have come so far, but because of what has taken place in the U.S. they are wanting to get to Canada, but remain trapped where they are, unable to get there without crossing through what lies between.

Canada is a long way away and suddenly, the distance I felt on that last day in Mexico, to make it back to my home, it doesn’t look nearly as wide a gap to go now that I’ve seen what those people are up against.

I hope Canada is kind with these asylum seekers. I hear our border guards and RCMP officers reporting seeing families, pushing strollers and coming across with infant seats, a heartbreaking thing to witness, as I imagine an infant I love having to travel like that.

Our country has those driven by fears, like the ignorance growing in the U.S., fueled by so much misinformation and a lack of ability to open their eyes.

In Canada, today a phone conversation apparently took place between our leader and the new leader of the U.S., after the face-to-face meeting that took place, last week in Washington, D.C.

It’s reported that border security issues were not discussed, but I find that so hard to believe. I don’t know what will happen. It worries me. When it comes to borders and boundaries, we may be two very different countries, but it’s like a horizon I can not see. It feels strong and weak, all at once.

I do know that Canada’s Immigration Minister was a refugee himself, from Somalia.

So, what would certain people say about the series I just spoke of? Would they call it fake news, created to tug at the human heartstrings, but disguising hidden dangers for all good, law-abiding citizens?

Some here in Canada argue we need to worry about real Canadians first, before helping everybody who just so happens to show up on our doorstep, no matter their reasons.

I put myself in the shoes of anyone in need. That’s because I feel I am one who benefits a lot, is carried on the backs of other Canadians, requiring services my country provides and this is painful to think about when I hear all the talk that’s been growing, as I’ve always been receiving help from so many hard-working Canadians. I am just as much a risk and a drain on the system, even if nobody ever bothered to know me and what my worth is as a fellow human being, just trying to live peacefully and share this planet. I guess that’s why I am so passionate about this sort of thing, though I admittedly know very little about all the ways humans cross borders. I want to learn more. I want to keep up and stay as educated as possible.

The whole thing makes me want to cry. I am really no less expendable, to so many who complain, as any refugee or immigrant ever was or will be.

We need to remain real and human to each other. Being unnamed, just a number or statistic, and cold distance is seen as sensible and becomes contagious.

***

February is, of course, Black History Month and I have been watching a documentary series on Thursday nights, all about the colonization Great Britain has been responsible for, for so long.

Where were borders when that was going on? What boundaries existed, what limits, when the Mighty Great Britain was subjugating so many?

Here in Ontario, I watch a lot of programs on the provincial station, which is affiliated with England and the BBC. A lot of documentaries from over there are aired here and I see a lot of a place I really know very little about, though Canada and they are forever connected too.

I am glad I am learning about the history of Britain’s colonization of anywhere and everywhere and the multi-cultural place it is, with its problems and all that has transpired there for all these years.

***

I ended my Facebook post by stating:

Notice, I say “border” instead of “borders” because I want to highlight the fact that two places share it, rather than being on one side or the other. Also, the term “alien” should never have been used to describe other human beings. Such terms allow us to think of ourselves as “us and them” and divide us even more than we already are.
You could cross an entire ocean or a border, guarded by someone with a gun or a deadly serious tone in their voice. Or, you could cross one in a car or airplane, and if you’re not looking, not even know you’re doing it.

***

When it comes to borders and boundaries, if we dare to look within ourselves, where do our hearts and our humanity begin and end when it comes to empathy and compassion? Where do we draw lines in the sand of our lives and those of other humans who are just trying to live life on their own terms, just like any of us feel we deserve to?

***

I realize this one was fairly lengthy, but I have had all this building up in my mind and heart and it all came out through my fingers, as I am a little wound up by recent events on all fronts. I do appreciate that Kristi read my Facebook post, included here, from earlier in the week and asked me to co-host with her this time.

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http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=699286

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14 thoughts on “Imaginary Lines, #FTSF

  1. “I put myself in the shoes of anyone in need.” Amen… please never change that or the desire to build bridges out of walls. We need more people who recognize that we are all family, to do injustice to one is to do harm to us all.

    • Yes Josie. Exactly. You may think it’s the other one and you are safe from it, but if you’re not careful, one day they will come for you. I am disabled. I could be next, one day soon, so why wouldn’t I feel for those being targeted right now?

      Thanks for reading.

  2. This is quite brilliant, and I’m glad you’ve expressed this perspective. It SO pisses me off when the people who are fleeing what I can only presume to be a FAR worse situation, are labelled, dehumanised, and turned into statistics. There’s outrage when the body of a toddler washes up on the beach, but no-one remembers to keep thinking about the heartbreak and terror of families who are in that position.

    Having a visa or a passport or whatever is such a magic key, and as one who has been frustrated in getting one, I understand a little of how heartbreaking it can be to see a glowing ‘land of dreams’ which is lifted ever beyond your reach.

    Whatever 45 is doing I am also disgusted with my government, which has been shamed by Europe (probably rightly so) for being lax in admitting refugees, particularly unaccompanied minors. They bloody need help – HOW HARD IS IT!?

    Also. Also. I think your view of yourself as a drain on Canadian society and less useful than some of the immigrants needs to alter a bit, my dear. SURELY better to see that the Canadian government values your life and input, whatever your abilities or impairments, and really should extend that courtesy to embrace and include others. The world would be SO much embettered by that change in attitude.

    • Oh, I know Lizzi. I agree with all you say here. Governments baffle me greatly. I do realize how lucky I am to be Canadian. It feels like everywhere around me is becoming less and less safe, for the most vulnerable and for us all. It can’t spread, the way it’s been going. I wish I could open my country to take in anyone and everyone who wants to only live in peace, but the rest of the world deserves the same. I just don’t get it, but some realities are beyond even me. Thanks though. It’s nice to hear these things mirrored back at me, like I am not hallucinating when I think them. Glad I saw this comment. I almost missed it I think.

      • Lol! No worries. That happens.

        And. Ugh. I am downright ashamed of my government at the moment. We are NOT doing enough to support the refugees and other countries are beginning to get annoyed at their reticence 😦

  3. Thanks again for co-hosting with me this week, Kerry. I was relieved you said yes after I saw your Facebook post because I knew that this is what I wanted to write about this week. Thank you. And when it comes to 45 and these walls and boundaries, I, too, am horrified and in a state of disbelief. I honestly cannot BELIEVE that anybody who is rational and sane thinks this is a good thing. Sigh. Also, as somebody who has a son who may need assistance and has received so much assistance, please don’t feel like you’re a drain on the system. The system was built to help each of us when we need it and to allow the best opportunities for each citizen and you are amazing and so young – already giving back with your amazing writing.

    • I feel so old sometimes Kristi, much older, beyond my actual years. I started out with so much illness and medical stuff that I wonder how things will end up for me. I know some think it a waste, impossible to support, with a system set up to make it hard at every turn. I can’t help feel like I am not giving it my all, this life stuff, but my writing is the best thing I have to hold onto. I am glad I met you through it and so happy you could relate to what I was saying originally on Facebook. I hope for only the best for me, for your son, and for us all. I don’t know which is the right way a lot of the time, just feeling things out as I go, as anyone without sight is known to do. We all are though I realize. That line from Finding Nemo/Dory has been stuck in my head: just keep swimming.

  4. Thanks for this piece this week. I am, as an American who is married to and the mother of Canadian citizens, struggling a lot with so much in the politics of my country these days. I am finding it difficult to write about or face it head on. Instead I face what I must and wrap word circles around what I cannot. Thank you for your words on this.

    • Facing it head on or what you say about writing word circles is most true, with politics, which I can’t really stand for too long at once. It’s all around me now though and I feel like I can’t escape its clutches. Thanks for reading.

  5. SO, here’s the deal and I’ll try to keep it short. But as it became clear to me that 45 would be elected and stay who he was/is – the idea of closed borders terrified me more than ever because, you see, my family cannot “escape” to Canada. My son has Down syndrome, he is a healthy adult, perhaps the healthiest person in my immediate family. But he is not welcome to become a Canadian citizen because of his disability. Nor Australia, nor New Zealand…nor many other nations. So we are without the option to find a new land with open arms. Even Canada.

    • You needn’t worry about keeping your comment short. I recently learned about this, but it hasn’t made the news nearly as loudly as it should. I want to learn more, as I say in my piece, to become more educated.

      Please know I appreciate your comment, that I understand better than most, and wish I could speak directly to Canada’s prime minister about this. I would hope, that if things get any worse for so many vulnerable people, that my country would step up, but I don’t know. I can imagine the fear of not being able to get in, but maybe even more not being able to get out. I wish the governments of the countries around the world could better see the value in people living with disability. I am determined to find a way to make a difference in these things. That is why I write and speak up. I hope I can do something more, but it really is a helpless feeling. I hear you on all of this.

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