Four horsemen have a fifth wheel

Imagine a desolate ribbon of pavement, in the middle of nowhere, but someplace dry and barren where the terrain rolls up and down, in fairly regular, half-mile wavelengths.
Imagine that from the crest of these fluid waves, in solid ground, a person can see everything, clear ahead to the next crest or clear back to the last one.

Imagine there is a passenger vehicle on this highway roaring forth with its throttle wide open into a vast backdrop of North-American landscape. Imagine that some hours earlier, the driver of the vehicle loaded minimalist provisions into the cargo space and eagerly left the warmth and familiarity of his or her home with a surety of purpose, a time frame and a predetermined destination in mind.

Imagine it’s the evening of a hot, midsummer day. The sun is setting. Cooling air from higher lands rolls downhill stirring loose particles of parched ground up into the atmosphere, as if the Earth herself were evaporating.

The waning sunlight beams pinkish-orange rays straight in through the windows but does not blind the driver because its intensity is dampened by the filter of beige haze.

Now imagine that the vehicle is yours; whatever you drive or would like to imagine driving. And the driver, it’s you or me. You are on a road trip of some kind for work or adventure and self-discovery, or to meet someone you have not seen in a long time or someone you don’t know. It’s all the same.

As you approach a crest in the linear asphalt wave, the stupor of highway hypnosis begins to set in. But it doesn’t get a chance to take hold, because as you summit the crest, you spot an oncoming semi. Its headlights stand out crisply in the fading light. And in that same fading light, you can also make out a glimmering orange glow coming from behind the semi’s rear wheels.

Heat buildup from excess braking, common among poor drivers, has melted the brake lines in half. The severed lines have since dripped their oily contents onto the tires, wheels and superheated brake rotors until they all burst into flames. The undercarriage of the semi, which now approaches, is a fire storm, spinning at 10,000 rpm.

Like a dragon raging in the throes of a temper tantrum, breathing fire from its gills, the truck slithers side-to-side, uncontrolled across both lanes of highway. The sheer inertia of its trailer, in a state of freefall, forces it by the laws of physics to swing around and attempt to pass the driver’s cabin. Inside the cabin the semi driver gropes the wheel for control, but he is already doomed.

So, what is a cautious driver to do? Decelerate, pull over and navigate the vehicle as far off the road as possible? Maybe even get out and run right? But you don’t.

In your surety of purpose and timeframe for reaching the destination you failed to account for unexpected mishaps. To you – and me – it’s a dilemma with an obvious solution, just not a desirable one. So what you do instead is take your hands off the steering wheel and start praying for a miracle, one with no compromises. And the threat keeps coming.

This may sound absurd but, in a manner of speaking, we do this every day. An estimated 2 million immigrants, most of them Mexicans, enter the U.S. illegally each year. The causes and effects of immigration are too varied to identify here.

In our daily lives, we make mention of this issue all the time, but we don’t really discuss it. We feel that it has some effects on us, but we don’t bother to really contemplate the cause. We say to each other, with an air of certainty that something must be done. But we don’t know what.

Before we can ask the question of what, we must first admit that there is a question to which we don’t have an answer. We don’t like doing that, and so we don’t.  We don’t know how to begin talking about it because, before we can, we must first ascertain the existence or inexistence of the concepts we would use to frame our discussion. We don’t like doing that either, so we don’t.

I wonder if this is because immigration, globalization, the drug trade and our own hunger for cheap consumer products and cheap human labor are simply the four horsemen of the wrong apocalypse.

TV has us facing east, watching events unfold that we debate, discuss, deliberate upon and ultimately accept.

Elections are made or broken based on words politicians speak about what’s going on in the east. And our gaze remains fixed on just about everything but our neighboring country to the south, not mention its people.

I wonder if, even though we may not like what our eyes see in the east, it’s what we expect. It fits into our worldview. It’s consistent with our identity paradigm; and therefore, we find it easier to swallow.

We’re told of a surety of purpose over there – lots of butts that need kicking. We’re told of a timeframe for doing it: before they kick ours. And a predetermined destination – zion.

But as for this other thing, we have our hands off the wheel, praying for a miracle, with no compromises. And the threat keeps coming.

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