By Joe Ortiz
Three momentous events that afforded me the realization as to the meaning of life and the importance of familia happened within a matter of days. They included my high school reunion, the 2004 election and a giant family reunion, as well. No human should have to absorb the roller coaster ride of the emotions that resulted from those experiences, all lumped into a span of one week’s time.
In regards to the election, I found myself debating amongst valued friends and family members the differences in the candidates, and hopefully (I, the objective minded critic of both sides) strived to examine the strengths possessed by both Bush and Kerry. The sometimes heated discussions had no true bearing on the election’s outcome, for the most part, they were cathartic. The old axiom is true: Don’t discuss religion or politics with those you love!
The family reunion was especially positive, but yet a highly emotional experience. Connecting with members of The Ortiz Family, coming from throughout all over the country, some whom I had never met before nor seen in decades, was mesmerizing. By the way, my grandmother had sixteen kids, and each of those had a minimum of eight kids and their kids had…….well, anyway, about 300 Ortiz Family members gathered to celebrate La Familia for the first time in over 40 years. More importantly, we exchanged addresses and phone numbers and plan to forever be connected, and not have to wait another forty years before we fellowship on a regular basis. We reminded each other that family unity is too important.
The high school reunion was also special. Although the attendance had dwindled down to about 50% of those I saw at the last reunion, it was special to see those who were still going strong. All in attendance also emphasized how important our school family was and that we should also stay connected as much as possible. The most poignant moment for me, however, was attending the picnic at the high school the day afterwards. As I strolled down those hallowed halls of my old high school with an old school mate, our memories were reignited to what we experienced during those early and most formidable years of our lives.
My mind raced back to all the things I was taught while attending school, especially those ideals that spoke about freedoms and the opportunities to soar and accomplish all of our dreams. Next to my overall belief in God and His word, the ideology spoken of in our Constitution has no equal. The seeds planted by our teachers included that anyone could work hard and even become President of the United States. One of the other ideological seeds planted was that we all should be united as one giant family, all members of what we call America. Above one of the giant hallways, I looked up and saw inscribed in Roman letters, “Liberty and Justice for All,” which basically confirmed in my heart the great familial love I have carried for family and country ever since.
However, throughout the years of seeking to fulfill the American dream in all of my endeavors, I witnessed the reality of the human experience, in that, as much as I wanted to believe this ideology, liberty and justice for all is an honorable and lofty goal, but one yet to be achieved by all who have embraced its concept. Yes, Jesus said “the poor you will have with you always.” However, our American family still consists of the haves and the have nots in regards to economic status and opportunities. While many have overcome various barriers and have succeeded in their respective goals, there are still more Latino have nots than there are haves in the white middle and upper class members of our American family. These folks, primarily from the Midwestern states such as Ohio (which ultimately decided the Presidential election) are staunch believers in their understanding of liberty and justice for all. It’s working for them; but unfortunately they don’t understand the values of Third World peoples. This Middle American demographic consists of the pervasive ideology that has influenced the decision as to who will (and has) lead the US throughout most of its existence. Meanwhile, peoples of color (Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minority groups) will continue in their journey to fulfill their American dream as best as they can with the tools they’ve been given. Hey! They are better off than most Third World countries in the Middle East and Latin America, so they say, que no?
Nevertheless, I still see a glass half full when it comes to the American dream. And the reason for this is my solid belief that the concept of familia is still a greater source and motivator as to who we are and what we need to strive for. Our obvious concerns should always be towards God and our immediate family (spouses, kids and relatives), and then with our closest friends (those we grew up and studied with), including our neighbors and those we work with on a daily basis. Establishing stronger bonds and nurturing those closest to us (by experience and or by locale) is definitely a noble calling.
In regards to our American family, all of us need to fulfill our responsibility to work hard, pay our taxes and obey the laws of the land. However, the next time I hear the phrase “Liberty and Justice for All,” especially from politicos and loony tune pundits seeking my vote for their respective candidate, I’m going to snatch that dangling carrot out of their hands and dice it up into thin slices and toss it into my pot of albondigas, gather together with Mi Familia, and be thankful to God I have a real one I can trust and depend on!
Joe Ortiz lives in Palm Desert and is the author of The End Times Passover. Web site: http://groups.msn.com/TheEndTimesPassover