A year or two ago, I posted to social media an article that explored the ways in which wildlife would be affected by the construction of an impassable wall along the U.S./Mexico border. The article made little mention of the geopolitical implications of such a wall; instead, it talked about jaguars, black bears, and mountain lions.
By posting it, I was thinking that readers, regardless of their feelings about the necessity of such a wall, would be interested in hearing about a little-known aspect of the border issue. After all, it’s a defendable position to support the construction of such a wall, and it’s reasonable that an advocate of wall construction might also lament the negative ways in which it would impact rare, wide-ranging predators.
How naïve I was. I didn’t read many of the comments (I was too disgusted), but some of the ones I did read were inflammatory, insinuating, and insulting. There was a suggestion by some that even considering the well-being of wildlife along the border meant that you were unsympathetic toward people who have lost jobs or suffered pay decreases due to influxes of undocumented workers. Others were even more stupid than that.
I lost a little faith in social media after that incident, but mainly I came away with an enhanced appreciation for just how heated the border issue has become. If you follow the news, most of what you hear about down there is violence, injustice, broken lives, and chaos. I’m as guilty as the next guy in feeding this beast. Any time I stumble across an article about the drug cartels I put whatever I’m reading aside and move on to that. It’s almost a national obsession, especially as border issues have become such a hot topic for the current presidential nominees.
With all the negative noise, it’s easy to overlook the awesome natural beauty of the border country as well as the generous and well-meaning people who live on both sides of the fence. I’ve been lucky enough to hunt down there, both in Mexico and the U.S., a half dozen times in recent years. On each occasion, I’ve gone home feeling as though my life had been enhanced by the experience. I’ll be back again, hopefully soon.
This isn’t to say that our border issues aren’t serious. They are, absolutely. But I think we owe it to ourselves to understand that region as best as we can before drawing absolute opinions about the place or the people. Toward that end, I hope that you’ll take the time to watch the upcoming episode of MeatEater. It was filmed just across the border, in the state of Sonora, not far from some of the towns that have become famous for their violence over the past decade or so. You’ll see some landscapes that will surprise you. You’ll encounter a richness of wildlife. You’ll get a brief introduction to an interesting chef. Please, tune in. There’ll be plenty of time later to write a rant on Facebook.