Lately, before going to bed, my daughter, who is 10, has been requesting I read to her from this book we own called, “Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents” by Sarah Conover. After reading these stories together we always take away the glow of love and compassion throughout the night. Last night, after tucking her in, I did some of my own reading and found a news story, so opposite from kindness, so lacking in compassion that it shook me to my core. The news story I am referring to begins with a young woman, her name was Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, and she was a Maya-Mam indigenous 20-year-old from Guatemala. In 2016, she graduated from a program in forensic accounting in her country. Unfortunately, there are no jobs, no prospects for a better future where she lived and she wanted a better future for herself. She chose to try her luck at taking a 1,200-mile journey to the U.S. to try and get an education. Two weeks ago she left her family, among them, her mother, Nidia Gonzalez, and her father, Gilberto Gómez, to come to the U.S. in hopes of securing work to fund her education. This past Wednesday, as she crossed into the U.S. border town of Laredo, Texas, unarmed, she was shot in the head by border patrol and died almost immediately. There was a video that’s been going viral showing the aftermath of the shooting filmed by a bystander and what shook me to my core was not only the nonchalant attitude of the patrol officers after having shot another human being dead but the comments that followed the articles, no matter which news agency covered it. They were terrifying and immensely saddening. Below are some samplings of these comments.
“WOOHOO, BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK”
“This news made my day.”
“Another one bites the dust.”
Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez was a young woman, yes she was crossing the border illegally, but she was an innocent human being. My question to you: Is this what we have become? Murders? Has our self-righteousness become so large and blinding that we cannot see that we are killing innocent people? Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez was not armed, she was simply hiding. The border officer did claim she attacked him with a blunt object, yet, the eyewitnesses on site, who also filmed the aftermath, claim otherwise. Nonetheless, she did not deserve to be murdered.
As we move to try to solve this complex issue of patrolling our borders I hope we don’t forget our humanity. Sadly, we have a president that has condoned and even fomented hatred towards undocumented immigrants, yet, we as individuals could choose to not follow his lead. We have a choice to make: to be silent and allow the murders to continue or to voice your opinions against excessive violence towards unarmed human beings. At the very, very least, border patrols should be outfitted with body cameras. There are no easy answers but we must make sure that indiscriminate murder of innocents is not part of any solution.
I look at the picture of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez and I see a petite woman with boundless determination. Think of all she has done in her young life. In 2 weeks she traveled, who knows how, 1,200 miles to follow her dreams. The amount of bravery and grit it took to make that trip we will never know. I just know that had I met her somewhere I would have very much loved to hear all about her adventure to the U.S. She did not deserve to be killed like some monster. We owe it to her and other countless innocent undocumented immigrants to find a humane solution, one that keeps our own humanity intact.