Turning 40 29/40

I am thankful for the enduring democracy of my home country. I did not know how thankful I was until I recently traveled outside its borders.

There was a crush of people running for their lives. Unchecked cartel activity busy with an active land grab in Central America is creating a living hell for families throughout several countries. Economic & political instability leaves little room to survive, throw in a volcanic eruption, and there is little question, I too would leave my home.

It’s an unexpected horror as I look into what’s going on right next door to our country. I am visiting the same footprint we always go to in August. But this time, it’s different.

I cannot reconcile what I have seen and what I now know. I cannot un-know it. It is jarring.

The media has spoken about caravans of people, walls that are going to be built, and laws that are being broken. But this was not any of those things. I met people. I heard the stories. I fed the children. Could I not be one of these mothers had I not been born American?

A father hoping to gain asylum in the US was waiting for his court date with his children. The initial dates are 6 months out. At that time, they will be given another evaluation date several months out when their case will be decided. Every time a family with children is caught crossing illegally, they must be jump the line to meet new hearing deadline, thus pushing back the dates for those legally waiting to seek asylum. This, unfortunately, incentivizes those with children to cross illegally to be seen sooner. Considering half of the 8,000 refugees at the border are unaccompanied minors, it’s not hard to pick off a child to take across the river with you.

This particular father had driven a taxi in El Salvador. If he wanted to continue driving his taxi, he needs to pay the cartel that worked the city. He went home and was visited by a different cartel. If he wanted to be safe in his home he needed to pay them to remain there. While the local gang members were offering their protection services they eyed his children, and they said the oldest was big enough to start working for the cartel.

If you refuse the cartel, they kill you. It is their management philosophy. It encourages compliance.

If I were in that situation I would pay to protect my children. I would try to remain. Until that last proposition regarding my oldest. If I refuse, I am killed. If I remain, my son will be trained to do the killing. If I run, at least there is a chance of living. It may be a small chance, but there is a guarantee of death and devastation befalling my family, my children especially, if I do not run.

In my home, in comfortable Fort Thomas, I don’t fear. I have freedom to build a business, to work where I want. I am safe in my home, paying taxes to a government that pays my police officers. I don’t have to pay bribes to keep thugs from breaking in, to keep us from being murdered for disobeying, to keep my children from being forced into working for a crime syndicate.

How simple a freedom. I didn’t even know to be thankful for it because I didn’t know I lived it. Until I saw how others didn’t. How great the Lord’s mercy in my life. How great my bounty.

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