Fuerza Mineros

Fuerza Mineros, (the Twitter hashtag #fuerzamineros), a wish of strength to the miners, these two words I typed dozens of times yesterday as I watched the rescue unfold in Chile.

I tweeted some of the rescues as they happened, and once I started, I found that I had to stay there for the very last one.

Part of the intrigue for me was pride in watching the true international effort at play – seeing how we are capable of such greatness when we work together. This rescue in Chile could not have happened without the help of the United States, and dozens of other countries. It’s a lesson in cooperation and humbleness, in allowing others to help when you can’t do something on your own. It’s a lesson on strength in numbers – just as the Chilean miners pooled their talents to survive below ground, the world pooled their talents above ground to save them. We are all unique individuals with unique abilities, which we should use to help others.

The second reason I watched, was for the pure happiness it gave me. The rescue allowed us to forget our own problems, like any other distraction. I think for a lot of people, it was a much needed respite from the usual depressing political and economic news. Maybe watching the families reunite gave us a moment to recharge and recalibrate – to realize just what is important in this world.

When these kind of amazing stories happen, it’s inevitable that the characters in the story will be granted a sort of legendary status, becoming unforgettable to an entire generation. The Chilean miners have been described almost as saints, called heroes, been ascribed attributes such as “resilient”, but I’m going to take an unpopular stance … As horrific as their ordeal was and as intelligent and strong as they were to survive, they are not saints or heroes, and they are no more resilient than most other human beings who find themselves in a situation where they must fight for their lives.

The Chilean miners are men – and flawed men, just like the rest of us. Perhaps none has exemplified that as publicly as Yonni Barrios – the miner who had both a wife and mistress show up to the site calling his name, (and word has it, he isn’t the only one who had multiple women claim him.)

But the truth is, all of the miners have skeletons in their closets, just like the rest of us – and I’d be willing to bet that the contract they signed with each other in the mine was that they’d never tell a soul about the things they must have confessed to each other during the days when they thought they might not make it out.

And while the miners have captured the world’s attention, there are human beings who never get to tell their stories, who are never praised for their survival, who are suffering in all kinds of situations every day all over the world; from starvation, poverty, illness, separation from family or homeland, to loneliness, unjust incarceration, abuse, slavery, and mourning. It is the human condition, and those of us who are not touched by the worst of this kind of suffering are the lucky minority.

It may seem I’m being cynical – on the contrary! This should give you hope! What I’m saying is that, like the miners, though we are not saints, we all have hidden reserves of strength, we all have the ability to pull through difficult times. We all have the capacity for faith in something greater than us no matter how “religious” we consider ourselves. We all have the ability to be reborn in this world, to change our ways. Each day that you wake up and feel the sunshine upon your face, it is another chance to try again.

(Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)


“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world…Strive to be happy.”-Desiderata/ Max Ehrmann

Chiquito pero Picoso

The other day my youngest son was watching CNN with me. The images were of dead fish washed upon the shore, and birds covered in slick black oil. The story, of course, was about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In all his 8 year old wisdom he said, “It makes me sad because I want to do something, but I really can’t.”

That’s how I often feel about so much I see in the news, but I wanted to show him it wasn’t true. I wanted to show him that you can make a difference, no matter how small you feel.

After a little research, I found out that there’s an organization called “Matter of Trust“. This organization makes booms out of human and animal hair which they stuff into stockings. It sounds crazy, but apparently these booms are very effective at soaking up the oil and are re-usable.

FACT: 1 pound of hair can absorb 1 quart of oil in 1 minute and be reused up to 100 times.

I called our regular hair stylist at Hair Cuttery and said, “I have a weird question…” I fully expected her to have no clue what I was going on about, but she enthusiastically informed me that they do participate in the program and donate all the hair they cut.

When I explained all of this to my son, he was very excited. The next day, we headed over to Hair Cuttery. We signed in and then browsed the books until he found a hair style that he liked.

The stylist put him up on a booster seat, (because even though he’s 8 years old, he’s only in the 5th percentile for height. Puro guanaquito!), and I took his photo before the hair cutting began.

Afterwards, my husband and I paid for the haircut, but our son pulled a few dollars from his own pocket to tip the hair stylist.

When I asked him how he felt he said, “Great! I like my haircut and I helped the animals in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Now that’s a win-win right there :)

Boycotting Arizona – What You Need to Know

As a result of the recent Draconian law, SB-1070, passed in Arizona which legalizes racial profiling, there has been a lot of buzz about boycotting the state. But just how does one boycott the state of Arizona?

According to netstate.com, “Arizona’s agricultural output is pretty evenly distributed between crops and livestock. About 47% of Arizona’s agricultural production is in livestock. The other 53% is in crops. In terms of revenue generated, Arizona’s top five agricultural products are cattle and calves, lettuce, dairy products, cotton, and hay.”

These aren’t exactly easy products to boycott since labels don’t always tell us the origin, for example, if I buy a T-shirt, there is no way for me to know where the cotton used to make it originated from.

Arizona also manufactures things such as electronic equipment, but again, which ones?

When trying to think up companies from Arizona, most Americans will come up immediately with Arizona Beverages, the makers of Arizona Iced Tea – but they would be wrong. Fearing this wrong assumption, the New York based company has even put a message up on their website.

There are a lot of famous companies that really are headquartered in Arizona though, such as Fender, P.F. Chang’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Best Western, PetSmart and U-Haul – but it doesn’t make sense to boycott these name brands either since this will hurt more than Arizona. It will hurt the company owners, who may not even be in favor of the new law, and because these companies have locations across the country, it will hurt all their other employees and their families who are already struggling in this economy.

So how can you boycott Arizona?

The most popular method being encouraged is to simply not go there, as “The Grand Canyon” state relies heavily on tourism.

Another method now being circulated targets Arizona’s baseball team, The Diamondbacks. The best reasoning for this particular approach is because the owners of the team are reportedly major donors to the Republicans responsible for the law. Other bonuses include the fact that more than 27% of Major League Baseball players are Latino which has helped to generate a huge Latino fan base. Losing Latinos at their games will be a major financial loss. A protest outside Wrigley Field in Chicago where the Diamondbacks are set to play the Cubs, is already being organized.

Meanwhile, Arizona Governor, Janet Brewer has decided to stick her head in the sand and hope for the best. Her recent statement, “I believe it’s not going to have the kind of economic impact that some people think that it might,” shows a shocking amount of ignorance at very recent history in her own state. In 2008 Arizona cracked down on businesses that were found to have hired undocumented immigrants and their economy suffered as a direct result.

Some businesses have already noticed a decline in customers.

Hector Manrique the owner of Taqueria Guadalajara in Phoenix said, “The streets just went empty. Usually on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’re packed. But this weekend was empty like I’d never seen it before… A lot of people told me they’re afraid to go out…”

And with good reason. The first American Citizen has already been mistakenly arrested, handcuffed, transported by van and detained. Abdon, who did not want to give his surname, was released after his wife arrived with his birth certificate at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Phoenix where he was being detained.

Emergency Strategy Call with Congressman Gutierrez

I just received this E-mail from Gabe Gonzalez at Immigration For America:

This week, we’ve seen all too clearly what we’re up against. A law sitting on the governor’s desk in Arizona would make police stop anyone they “suspect of being undocumented.” More than that, it gives citizens the right to sue the police if they’re not stopping enough people.

If the governor signs this law, in Arizona you could be detained, legally, just for looking as though you could be an immigrant – in other words, for no reason at all. It’s racial profiling, and it encapsulates the hatred we’re fighting.

This is an “All hands on deck” moment for our movement! Arizona has shown that we cannot wait to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and that’s why we’re holding an emergency strategy call with one of our strongest allies, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, on Thursday, April 22, at 7:15 pm (Spanish language) and at 8:00 pm Eastern (English language), to brief you on the plan going forward into the marches in May.

Congressman Gutierrez will speak about the struggles we’ve faced, and what we can all do to make sure comprehensive immigration reform becomes the law. Congressman Gutierrez knows that we can’t wait any longer to fix our broken system, and he’ll tell us about the ways we’ll win this battle by standing together. I hope you can join him for this critical moment in time.

I have participated in one of these calls before and if this issue is important to you, I encourage you to sign up to participate in this one. It is really easy: Just go to the link below, sign up, and then on the day and time of the conference call, they will call you. You don’t have to do anything. Your phone will ring, you answer it, and then you will automatically be connected so just listen in. That’s all there is to it, so don’t feel at all intimidated.

CLICK HERE to sign up for a call with Congressman Gutierrez on Thursday at 7:15pm or 8:00pm Eastern

Arizona soon to violate civil rights

What’s going on in Arizona is not the type of immigration reform this country needs.  The soon-to-be Arizona law, which passed the state House last week and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), states that police can arrest anyone on “reasonable suspicion” that they are an illegal immigrant.

This is flat out racial profiling and it’s wrong. So, what if my family decided to go to the Grand Canyon this summer, (which we sure as hell won’t. I’m not stepping foot in Arizona as long as these sorts of laws are being enforced), and let’s say my husband was just walking around like any other tourist. Just based on his skin color, accent and lack of “proof” to the contrary, they could arrest him because they suspect he’s an illegal immigrant? (He’s a U.S. Citizen by the way.) … How can that be allowed to happen anywhere in the United States? If a legal resident or U.S. Citizen is in fact arrested or detained due to this new law, I hope they sue their pantalones off.

Part of me hopes that immigrants, (both documented and undocumented as they both must now survive in a constant state of paranoia), living in Arizona will simply leave the state and move elsewhere. Maybe Arizona thinks that is what they want, but they will soon realize they have shot themselves in the foot as various industries begin to collapse.

A similar law was passed a few years ago in Prince William County, Virginia. A timely documentary called “9500 Liberty” is on limited release right now.  Some time soon it is supposed to premiere on cable television and will also be released on DVD. (In the meantime, watch the trailer below.)