In my sophomore year in college, I had the great good fortune to study abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico. I think everyone should study abroad at some point. It expands your worldview. And based on commentary in recent years, it’s painfully clear that America’s worldview needs expanding, especially in terms of our neighbor to the south.
When I lived in Mexico, I made some friends that I still have to this day. I learned a lot about myself and what is important to me. I was exposed to art, education, history, literature, architecture, and exquisite food. I met decent, hard-working, loving and dedicated families.
Guanajuato is a college town, full of students anticipating bright futures, and bringing with them the energy and excitement that only people of that age can bring. And because of that, this is a city full of cultural activity and many opportunities for learning.
Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t, but it probably does. If that fool Donald Trump and the media in general are the rulers by which we measure Mexico, then the average American thinks that all Mexicans are living in scummy little border towns full of drugs and prostitution and tacky tourism, and that they are all planning to descend en masse on the USA, so that they can rob and rape and plunder. Run for the damned hills! No American is safe! No wonder so many people are pushing for a wall to be built.
This attitude makes me sick. It also makes me sad. When I tell people I lived in Mexico, you know what the most common question is? “Did you see a dog and pony show?” Seriously. And the answer is no. I wouldn’t even know where to find one if my life depended on it. What I did see was the Bolshoi Ballet when it toured in our town.
I once got into a heated argument with someone who said, “Those GD Mexicans just want to take our jobs.” Here’s something that doesn’t seem to occur to the average American. Not every Mexican wants to move to America. And the ones that come are either doing so out of desperation and take jobs most of us wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole or are (gasp!) already capable professionals who want to make a new start like most of our ancestors did. Both groups make important contributions to this society.
Yes, there is poverty and despair, but Mexico is also a country that’s full of doctors and lawyers and teachers and accountants and shop owners and bankers and clerks, and they love their country as much as we love ours. It’s because of them that their country functions, and they have every right to be proud of that.
So before you start disparaging an entire nation of people, you might want to look beyond the border towns and your unfounded preconceived notions and see the real people of Mexico. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not willing to take your prejudices seriously.