The Dangerous Quest for a Better Life
by Miles Merritt
The war in Iraq and immigration continue to dominate the news in the United States today. To some of us the concepts of war and immigration remain abstract notions. We hear statistics about a war that is taking place thousands of miles from home. We see the faces of strangers on the news who are being killed or wounded in action every day. But unless we know someone personally who is involved in this war, chances are we haven’t been asked to make any kind of real sacrifice ourselves.
The same is true of immigration. Many people in the U.S. see pictures on TV of people climbing walls or fences – and falsely assume that they are all merely criminals trying to flee to American soil. Most of them never get the chance to meet or know any of these people personally. They can only see that they are from a different culture and speak a different language – and for a variety of reasons there are those who feel threatened by that. Yet, in reality, the vast majority of these emigrants are simply trying to find a better life and be able to provide for their families. And who among us wouldn’t do the same?
The quest for a better life always involves some type of risk. In 2002, President Bush issued an executive order that offered the opportunity of accelerated citizenship to those foreign nationals who enlisted in the U.S. Military to fight against terrorism. As U.S. Citizenship is often seen by many Mexicans as a road to a better life, the risk these days often means young people joining the armed services and being sent to war.
The tragic story of one particular Mexican man who opted for this alternative prompted my wife Gail and me to produce a short narrative film about these issues. Our film entitled, Una Causa Noble (A Noble Cause) was shot here in Mexico and deals with the impact these decisions make, not only on the individuals involved, but also on their families and communities. Most of us know all too well how there are now numerous towns and villages throughout Mexico where virtually no men are left anymore – only women and children. The men have all gone north to pursue the “American Dream.”
Whatever one’s position may be regarding the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should all agree that young people need to be better informed before making such critical decisions about their lives. Una Causa Noble attempts to put a human face on these issues – and will hopefully inspire even more people to exercise some compassion and understanding for all those desperate people who are often willing to put themselves in harm’s way in search of a brighter future.
Una Causa Noble (A Noble Cause) will screen at the Santa Barbara Theater, February 4 @ 7:00 PM & 8:30 PM, and February 5 @ 8:30 PM. The filmmaker will be present and host a Q&A session after the show. Admission is 100 pesos.