Today I bought Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox’s book, Revolution of Hope, and started reading it.  At this point, I know almost nothing about President Fox.  Just 9 pages of his book have taught me more than I knew beforehand.  Before today I knew he was generally in favor of immigration.  Little did I know.

President Fox’s grandfather is from Ohio and never spoke a word of Spanish, even after immigrating to Mexico.  He left Ohio for Mexico in his search for the American dream.  I know the feeling.  Last spring I started searching for housing in Matamoros.  In a solo trip driving through neighborhoods, a sentimental feeling came over me and I put in one of my Simon and Garfunkle CD’s I keep in my car.  I found the track and let Paul Simon’s familiar humming hypnotize me into that often felt longing for an elusive something I’ve long sought.  “Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together.  I’ve got some real estate here in my bag,” the singing began.  “Kathy I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping.  I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.  Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve all come to look for America,” the song concluded.  I realized right then that the sentimental, even nostalgic feeling I was experiencing was that same familiar searching for what America ought to be that I have been doing all my adult life.  I felt this same way as I was walking down the darkly lit stretch of Dyer Street that connected the Logan Heights portion of Ft. Bliss, where my barracks were, to the gritty Northeast section of El Paso where I bought the only lottery tickets of my life at a Circle K.  This was the feeling I felt during my first tour of duty to Saudi Arabia when I opened my family’s Christmas gift of a box of cold cereal.  A family of eleven children, and living in poverty, we had started a family tradition of each child receiving a box of cold cereal for Christmas–a luxury not experienced during any other season.  It was that same feeling that I felt as a non-traditional student in college trying to shrug off poverty’s psychological effects and accept a view of myself that included a bachelor’s degree.  What I felt, listening about the search for America in my car in Mexico (and these other times), was a heart agape and emptied of everything but hope, but longing.

President Fox put it this way:

South of the Rio Grande, which we call the Rio Bravo, we consider the entiere hemisphere to be the Americas.  America is the New World, where ancient civilizations like the Maya and the Aztec mingled with the bold and the enslaved and the desperate from Europe, Arabia, and Asia.  In this sense we are all Americans, and from Canada’s Yukon to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego we all share the dream of a better life.

It is from this expanded understanding of America that President Fox sees immigration.  “Hungry and desperate, seeking refuge from disease, war, persecution, and poverty,” Fox says, people are uprooted by “the four hoursemen of desperation who drive immigrants to the gates of hope.” (Why don’t we acknowlege poverty at home and a willing employer abroad as a valid reason to classify someone as a refugee?)  These immigrants’ “dreams belong to all of us, becaues needs that basic, values that common, and a hope that divine simply cannot be limited by borders.  America is in this way not so much a country but an ideal.”  The American dream, Fox says, “remains the last, best hope of mankind on earth.”

If you are a Besteiro Middle School student writing about Dr. Martin Luther King, you might notice the similarities between Dr. King’s dream of a world where black and white, north or south of the Mason Dixon Line would share in a common humanity, a true community, and President Fox’s dream for the same for Latino and Anglo, north or south of the Rio Grande.

President Fox continues,

The world needs this dream of the Americas, now as never before….  Most of all we pray for a revolution of hope to restore the founding spirit of our hemisphere, where the Statue of Liberty once welcomed the eager dreams of the poorest, bravest, and most desperate people of the earth.

I know very little of the Americas outside the United States.  Ultimately I did not move to Matamoros.  I could not find a roommate and although I found an excellent apartment, I couldn’t afford it on my own.  My total experience in Latin America is limited to roughly 10 weeks living and studying Spanish in Monterrey.  But it is this sense of hope and opportunity and this idea of equality, combined with a lifelong commitment to public service, that has led me physically from the Mountain West to the Midwest, to the Middle East,  the West Coast, and the Texas Border.  This hope, this faith, this love, and this commitment led me intellectually and spiritually here to the border–to the limits–of that hope and equality.

There is more Martin Luther King to come on Sunday.  There is more Revolution of Hope comming too.  My prayer tonight is that with them will come more readers, more believers, more optimists, and more searchers.
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