by Mark RedwineThe Space-X spaceport is about twenty minutes from our home. We drove out there today to see the latest prototype of the starship that will take humans to Mars. Her name is SN-9. She could fly next week. They have been test firing her engines and doing pressure tests on her for several days. Many of her predecessors did not survive the tests leading up to a launch. One reason is that some of the tests were designed to find out how much pressure the ship could handle. Those tests have led to some gloriously spectacular explosions. SN-8, the first Mars prototype, flew a few weeks ago. We watched her from our driveway. We witnessed history being made. She did everything she was supposed to do…except land successfully. She came down a little too hard on the landing pad and exploded. They still can’t find all of the pieces. Space-X learned from SN-8. They made appropriate adjustments to SN-9, so she should be able to have a much happier landing. SN-10 is in the high bay, ready to fly after SN-9. She will be the last of the high-altitude test ships. After her, comes orbital testing.
Seeing the starship brought back memories of the Buck Rogers TV shows. Buck’s spaceship used sparklers for the motors and you could see the wires that the ship “flew” on. But, it was good enough for a seven-year-old kid with an overstimulated imagination. And, it reminded me of the times I would lay on the grass with my dad, look up at the night sky, and watch Sputnik zoom through the stars like a meteor. And of the space race with Russia, especially the feelings associated with being part of the tribe that was first to put a man on the moon. I remembered the national pride and unity that flooded the entire nation. We were part of history being made.
Yesterday, we witnessed history being made. It was not as much fun as watching a starship fly. We saw the Capitol building stormed and put under siege. We saw the leaders of our nation hiding in the building, fearing for their lives. That shook me up a little. It brought back the memories and the feelings of the Cuban missile crisis, JFK and MLK assassinations, Kent State, Viet Nam, the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, 911, and most recently George Floyd and Brionna Taylor. What is different about the siege of the Capitol building is that it doesn’t feel like it is over. It feels like it has made the divisions in our country more profound, defined, and entrenched. I hope and pray that I am wrong.
I had a Civics class in the fifth grade. Just about all I remember from the class is what the teacher had to say about the way our government works. He compared it to a rubber band. He said when one side is in power, the rubber band gets stretched to one side. When the other side gets in power, the rubber band is stretched to the other side. Our system of check and balances or balance of powers is supposed to keep things close to the middle. Stretch the rubber band too far and too fast to one side, the rubber band could break. Our immigration system is tied to the government and is part of the ebb and flow of governmental power.
There have been times in the history of America when immigrants were loved and welcome. And, there have been times when they were hated and feared, such as now.
It is easy to see that the rubber band will start being pulled to the left come Inauguration Day. The question that all of us who work with immigrants and asylum-seekers are asking now is, how much change will there be and how soon will it happen?
We need to be able to plan our response to the needs of asylum-seekers, not only for those who live in the camp, but for all of those who will be able to seek asylum again. We don’t anticipate any immediate major changes. But, we are determined to meet their needs as they arise.
Some very wise person once said on Facebook, “Don’t miss the beauty of the garden because you are focused on the weeds.” That statement drove a wooden stake through my heart. For the last two and a half years, I have been involved with a consortium of dedicated compassionate people who bring hope, dignity, and care to the people caught in the cogs of the madness of our broken immigration system. And, it has taken a toll on me. I have been focusing so much on the weeds of hate, prejudice, fear, injustice, unfairness, despair, sickness, squalor, and death that I have lost sight of the flowers in the garden. I don’t know when this happened. I do know that I need to take a little time to find the flowers again in the garden of refugees who live in the camp across the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico.Over the years, I have been able to stay in touch with some of the people who have been granted asylum and are working their way to Permanent Residency and Citizenship. Cami from Cameroon is one of them. She stayed with us for Christmas. We took her to the beach for the first time in her life. And, we opened Christmas presents together. She does not dwell on the past. She won’t talk about it. She looks forward to the day when she and her family can be reunited in the USA. She exudes joy. Joy explodes out of her. She sings. You can catch her joy just by listening to her sing.
Newborn babies are the epitome of resilience. Over the last few years, there have been many newborns in the camp. They represent faith in, and hope for the future. Each birth represents a determination to build a better life for this new generation. One newborn is named Andreita. She represents all of the newborns in refugee camps, especially the ones on the border of Mexico and the USA.
Friends of mine wrote a lullaby for her. You can listen to it here. There is a slide show attached. Andreitas Lullaby. Enjoy.?
If you would like to know more about Mark and Marilyn’s work on the border, or how you can help, like their Facebook page or email Mark for more information at mtmasai@aol[dot]com. You can also check out Mark’s previous articles that share more about the camp in our Tales of Diversity section.