Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Reality of the Diaspora


There are several reasons that prompted us to cross borders in search of a utopia, "The American Dream". Our people's poverty, brotherly conflicts, our leaders' negligence, the lack of action on the part of those whose personal interest rise above hunger, or just the pursuit of an adventure. The lack of proper education because of poor educational programs or our family roots resonant of phrases such as “I had no schooling because my dad didn't have it, as he had to feed us", are some of the factors that made us look for better opportunities.

We come to a far away land, where the language barrier and issues such discrimination, racism and human exploitation, are our daily bread. These are, for a while, some of the reasons that prevent the newly arrived from having an opportunity for growth, as they must "pay their dues", as bosses say. There is a circle of indivisible prime numbers and buddies, who either do nothing or do not allow others to do something, as it is not in their best interest that a community progress, as idleness and ignorance are their way of life.

There are exceptions, of course. There are those who lend a hand without asking for anything in return. They are a minority though, they are like ghosts, they neither smell good nor stink, as their way of life is to protect their own skin or back, as we say in the language of our homeland.

The vast majority is forced to work like a horse around the clock in order to reach an economic status that allows them to get ahead with their family, the family they have with them plus the family they left behind. They do that with great sacrifice and submitting themselves to subhuman conditions for the sake of economizing and punctually sending remittances back home. Once in a while, they surrender to the arms of Bacchus and the pleasures of bars in order to forget their tiredness and loneliness. Yet, they also forget to think and plan, not realizing that any time spent educating themselves will make a difference. That their education will allow them to compete in the work market, live with dignity or at least identify the plunderers that each day will look for them to take advantage of their ignorance. They do not accept the fact that they live in a foreign country and embrace the dream of returning to their homeland one day. Some of them still hold on to the same dream after more than twenty years in the foreign land, living as if they had just arrived and letting many opportunities go by.

The family nucleus is disintegrated, as work and the materialistic system absorb them. There is a lack of time and they often forget to teach their children the values that forge their conduct. They have no time to pass on to them their past experiences, so that their children don't have to learn from their own mistakes and soon become a part of the statistics that fill newspapers in this country.

Being materialistic is not only being redundant in terms of expressing a superficial preference for material things. It goes beyond that. It is assuming an egotistical position and remaining alienated from the social events that a community is involved in, thus fostering disintegration even further.

Unity is a key element that deserves to be imitated. It is something that other ethnic groups have worked very hard to have it recognized to their credit in this part of the world, an accomplishment that we share with them. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about our community, as we need a misfortune, a catastrophe or a sports event to express it. And when that happens, those who tear their robes and steal chambers to see what they can gain for themselves also come to the surface.

There is no need to read statistics or listen to Sunday sermons to know what our reality is. An excursion to a criminal facility, a walk around the block or a closer look at street corners would suffice. Looking for the origin of that reality or for the persons responsible for it would require time and money and it would only end in others greeting us with somebody else's hat. We already know the answers, what we must do is act now.

We can use the above as a point of reference to identify certain situations, which are somewhat inter-related and at the end have an impact on the problems of our YOUTH in their various forms ― disintegration of the family, abandonment of studies, vagrancy, drugs, gangs and delinquency. If nothing is done about it, we can only foresee indigence, jail or death at the end of the tunnel.

We propose to present the arts as an alternative, as a catalyst of emotions, frustrations, violence and anger, as an alternate source of income and a provider of work. As a means for economic and social development, as an unlimited source of cultural expression, as a modulator of conduct, as a way for a man to feel like a human being with his fellow men.

We can not do that alone.

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