The Tightrope Exercise

by Mike Melara, Executive Director

I will admit it. I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to my day planner. I was introduced to the Franklin Planner system in January 1997 and I have been using it ever since. I carry it with me like a country preacher carrying a bible from town to town. Preaching the good word of organization and prioritization, all in a leather-bound case that contains calendar, priority task lists, and daily notes.

Along with my planner came a training session which I attended with about 20 other people. We were taught, among other things, how to prioritize our day. At one point, the trainer told us to imagine a tightrope tied between the two World Trade Center Towers and asked how many of us would be willing to walk that tightrope. Not a single hand went up. Then she added, “Imagine a loved one, your child, at the other end of the rope, and they were in danger. How many of you would be willing to take the risk and attempt to cross to the other side?” Hands shot up, including my own. I was a new parent, my daughter barely a month old. Like most parents, there is nothing I would be unwilling to do to save her.

I haven’t thought about that training in a long time. However, seeing the images of a Salvadoran father and his daughter lying face down in the water of the Rio Grande, drowned to death in their attempt to cross to the US border, got me thinking about the “tightrope” exercise. I could almost hear the trainer’s voice: “How many of you would be willing to cross the Rio Grande on foot?” No hands. “Okay, if you had to save your child from life-threatening violence, how many of you would take the risk and try to cross?”

Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez raised his hand. Carrying his beautiful two-year-old daughter, Valeria, he attempted to negotiate a passage to freedom. It was the strong currents of the Rio Grande that claimed the life of dad and daughter. River currents can pull you down and sweep you away. Political currents can do the same.

All of us at Catholic Charities will consider the souls of Oscar and Valeria and offer our prayers to their family and to all those who suffer from the immigration crisis.

(Artwork by Manuela Guillen.)

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