Migration is part of life for many creatures. All those herds on the move in Africa,
following the rains. Birds that fly halfway around the world to keep warm in winter and
cool in summer. Butterflies migrate. So do many people, even though our migrations are
not triggered by instinct but by necessity or desire. We pack up our lives to further
our careers, to look for work in a new area, to retire in a place we once visited and
enjoyed, to be closer to (or farther away from) family, or simply to give our lives a
kickstart in a new direction.

In countries such as the United States, all of this is fairly easy to do. I have had
four major moves so far in my life, but the only traumatic one was the first, when I
was eleven years old and thought I would surely die if I had to leave the only town I
had ever known. We not only left the town, we left the entire state. And I survived,
even though I resented the whole situation for years.

But a pre-teen’s nerves and temper tantrums are nothing compared to what some people
experience during a migration. Now I am not thinking of the people who have moving men
come to the old house to load belongings in a big van and meet them at the new house.
This type of migration can be stressful, but is easy to get through. I am thinking of
the men and women who face death by staying where they are, and risk death by leaving.
They attempt to cross deserts, oceans, and international borders in hopes of gaining
what so many of us take for granted: a fair chance at a decent life.

The majority of the people who make these desperate journeys are honest, trustworthy,
hardworking souls who have chosen the only way they can think of to try to improve the
quality of their lives. When your back is against the wall and your own government has
nothing to offer, what choice do you have? The most basic desire in life is survival.
If that is not possible in your own country you will go wherever you need to go, do
whatever you need to do to get your back as far away from that wall as possible.

Naturally there are also people who do have opportunities in their own countries but
will not take advantage of them, choosing instead to search for soft living. They think
The Good Life will be handed to them on a silver platter once they show up on the
opposite side of a border fence, so they take the same risks migrating as our majority,
but with very different attitudes. They do not want to give, they merely want to take.
Sometimes it seems that they have become the majority after all, but I try to believe
that most people who decide to leave their own countries deserve at least the chance to
succeed, and I salute their spirit.

Of course the final phase in the migrations I am writing about, that of crossing an
international border, is illegal when attempted with no permission papers, and not all
people who try will have these papers. If they make it across, they will live in
constant fear of discovery. If they do not make it across, they will have to decide
once again on a direction for their lives. Stay along the border and try again someday?
Stay along the border but give up the dream of crossing? Return home to press their
backs against that wall and try to hold out as long as possible before giving up on
life? What would YOU do if you were in their shoes?

This is a complex subject that a few paragraphs cannot cover adequately so I will come
back to it in future posts. But in the meantime, I do not think any of these people
should be treated like criminals or looked down upon by those of us who were lucky
enough to have been born with more options in life. I admire the courage of anyone who
dares to take that first step on a dangerous journey. At least they are taking action,
and not simply sitting around waiting for Something To Happen.

copyright Debbie Zapata ~~ July 22, 2014


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