My favorite college professor, Don Gifford, in his handbooks, gave a generation of students and general readers a whole new perspective on the great Irish writer.
James Joyce. But in a book he wrote near the end of his life, he talked about how the age of air transportation had given all of us, a more literal “new perspective” on our world.
Airplanes made it possible for the first time, for people to view their home, state, country or planet from above, hundreds, thousands and eventually tens of thousands of feet above the surface of the earth.
This overhead perspective could be humbling as well as informative, showing as it did, the vastness of the Earth we small people inhabited. But the so-called “God’s eye view” also could inflate the viewer’s estimation of his knowledge, his sense of finally seeing things altogether and understanding them.
The perspective from the air, can be misleading in a very dangerous way – it suggests the view from 35,000 feet lets you see reality on the ground.
Even more distorting, say many of the people who live along the border between Mexico and New Mexico is the view of their area, their problems, their communities and cultures seen from 1750 miles away in Washington, DC.
At the White House, what seems to define La Frontera is the border itself, separating national sovereignties and national interests. The Washington imperative is securing that border and preventing alleged threats to America’s national security and economy.
President Donald Trump’s obsession is building a wall, which may or may not enhance security, but will certainly impose separation.
Which is what the folks who live on either side of the Mexico and New Mexico border like least about it: that it will separate people not from threats , but from neighbors, that it will block not job-stealers, but job-fillers. Most important, it will divide in 2 a single community and culture of Mexicans and Americans, to nobody’s benefit, and a lot of people’s harm.
Take a woman named Mayté Luján who runs a small resort hotel in the Mexican town of Casas Grandes, Chihuahua. The drug wars in Ciudad Juarez, not far away, cost her a lot of customers. But as they subsided Mexican tourists from farther south have returned, and so have some New Mexicans. “The Texans, they’re still afraid,” she says. “But New Mexicans are my people. They come here.”
Trump’s wall, if it’s ever built, will make international travel harder, but the presence of beefed up border security of any kind will have much less impact on life in the frontier area than the absence of an international law affecting a precious resource. Right now water from an underground aquifer that flows hundreds of feet below the border is subject only to 2 natural laws…human need and human greed…or as they like to say on the desert ground west of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, “who has the biggest straw.”