Ivan Natividad: The borders that separate us
July 15, 2018
We found it hidden in the back of our pantry. It was a 10 by 10 foot beige blanket depicting a map the world that my wife and I purchased years ago for picnics.
Inked in black, the land masses had no distinct borders separating countries or states, but unlike some western maps the size of the continents were proportionally correct, with Africa and Asia being the largest.
"Which island do we live on?" my son asked.
"We don't live on an island," I responded arrogantly. Then I pointed to where I thought Northern California would be.
"We live somewhere in this area," I said.
"That's a big island," he responded.
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Knowing the geological differences between larger land masses and islands, that I learned about in that one Natural Disasters course I took in college, I laughed it off.
In his mind, devoid of the knowledge of states, countries, or continents, we're all just people who live on a piece of land surrounded by water.
If only it were that simple.
Like so many others, the pictures of young children being taken away from their parents at the southern border struck a chord in my heart.
According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll, 7 in 10 Americans opposed separating children from parents accused of entering the U.S. illegally through the southern border.
So after political and bipartisan backlash, last month President Donald Trump rescinded the policy which his administration sought to use as a deterrent to illegal immigration, though, families claiming asylum were also treated the same.
Issues like this seem to be extremely polarizing in our country, with Democratic and Republican leaders alike feeding off the outrage in an attempt to capitalize politically come November.
But when the elections are done with, what are we left with?
A divided populace clinging on to the next issue that we disagree on.
Ideological borders that become bolder each day.
Rasumussen Reports released a poll recently stating nearly a third of U.S. voters believe "it's likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years."
According to the report, Democrats were slightly more fearful of a second civil war at 37 percent, than Republicans at 32 percent.
While 59 percent of voters were concerned that opponents of President Trump's policies would resort to violence, to be fair, during former President Barack Obama's second year in office, 53 percent of voters thought those who did not support his policies would turn to violence as well.
The fear cuts both ways.
Fear, it's a powerful tool that can cause us to look away from reality as it engulfs our psyche and emotional stability.
It can be used to justify dismissive and generalized categorizations that fuel division.
Division that likely contributed to a San Bernardino County woman who was video recorded berating a U.S.-born Latino man and his mother because of their Mexican heritage, calling them "drug dealers, rapists and animals." She adds "even the president of the United States says so."
The fear that fueled those dismissive remarks can also be attributed to the assumption that some columnists and political commentators have made in calling all Trump supporters racist, — just because some of them are — a claim that is hypocritical and ideologically lazy.
Words are powerful, so when we reduce groups of people by defining them through extreme representations we ignore the perspectives of everyone in the middle.
While it can be tough to break down these barriers as they have constantly been perpetuated by our foreign and domestic policy and rhetoric, maybe we just need to be reminded that being Mexican does not make you a drug dealing rapist. Being Muslim does not make you a terrorist. Being black or brown does not make you a criminal. Being white does not make you a racist. And the list goes on.
Maybe there's no way to change, but when thinking about it, for some reason I remember that look in my son's eyes when he saw that map. Those were the eyes of someone who doesn't see the borders we've created.
Maybe that's all it is. Remembering who we were, to unlearn what we've become.
And the more we understand ourselves and each other, the faster those borders disappear.
Ivan Natividad is Digital Editor at The Union. To contact him call 530-477-4242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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