Paradox of the Border

Richard Rodriguez from "The Fabric of Our Identity," On Being, September 18, 2014:

What Mexican relatives of mine ask me all the time is why are the Americans so unhappy?

I don’t know what to tell them.

Why are we taking it up our nose and putting it in our veins, and — when we can’t be alone without drugs, we can’t be with other people without drugs. We can’t have sex without drugs. We can’t go to sleep without drugs. We can’t wake up without drugs. We can’t get out of bed without drugs.

What is this addiction?

We have destabilized much of the world with our addiction. We’ve created a drug economy in Afghanistan, in Thailand, in Bolivia and we’ve caused turmoil in Guatemala and now we have elevated thugs in Mexico to the status of billionaires with our despair. And yet, we are an optimistic people.

And yet, Mexico, by comparison, is a tragic civilization in which death is very much a part of one’s understanding of what life is. The paradox of the border right now, is that you see young people coming to the American border for the opportunity of America, at exactly the time when Americans are importing drugs from Latin America because of the despair of our unhappiness.