On the Edge of Common Sense

by Baxter Black

On the Edge of Common Sense

Missing My Neighbors

I have neighbors I haven’t visited for years. They were so good to me growing up. They raised walnuts. They are part of the reason I moved back to Arizona. English was not their first language. I learned theirs and encouraged my children to do the same. Then several years ago an uncle moved in with them. He was a bully and intimidated them. He discouraged them from having visitors. They became afraid but there was nothing they could do.

Every night the uncle would steal their walnuts, drive into the big city and sell them. He still does. My heart aches for my neighbors but we no longer talk. Their windows are boarded up and “no trespassing” signs are in their front yard. I have spoken with the police, the border patrol and the politicians but there is little they can do. A sadness has fallen over our whole neighborhood.

My neighbor is the country of Mexico.

I miss it. Living along the border today is like living on the Korean DMZ or the Berlin wall; the drug cartels rule. They are as powerful as the cartels that ruled Columbia in the 90s. The number of murders attributed to them now approaches 50,000. Phoenix is second only to Mexico City as the kidnap capital of the world.

The real victims are the trabajadores, the workers on both sides of the border, legal and illegal, who come looking for work. The risks they take to enter the U.S. are frightening, and yet they continue to come by the hundreds of thousands every year. They are like a school of fish swimming through a channel full of sharks. Their continuous march north only demonstrates our stubborn denial of the obvious, “We want them and we can’t stop them.”

Not to mention the biggest elephant in the room, we desperately need their drugs. We are willing to turn a blind eye to the murderous carnage, the violation and inhumanity that defines our border, as long as we can feed our voracious addiction. The cartels are willing to sacrifice their own lives and those of the trabajadores to supply our endless craving. And they do their job so well. Just ask any user you know, he can direct you right to a dealer. These precious drugs have become the Mexican peon’s version of conflict diamonds, ivory trade and bootleg whiskey. I see no end.

I think about my neighbors, their walnuts, and the times we used to visit . . . but, whattaya gonnu do?

How do you say walnut in Spanish?