Homeless man in downtown San Diego
A homeless man in downtown San Diego. Photo by Enrique Morones

Is America a country that has lost its soul? Although in this past year we have made great gains as a society, we now realize that this country may never be the same.

There is a new administration in the White House. A sense of reality has returned to the local and international discourses. New faces have emerged in local politics.

We see more diversity and expect a more humane and more civil society. Even additional cottages of nations have appeared in our beloved Balboa Park. Yet all that glitters is not gold.

While President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris represent a welcome respite from the four years that preceded them, the United States changed during those years. That shining light upon the hill has — at least temporarily — gone out on the international stage.

We may use a different tone and have qualified leaders back in place, but all comes to naught with the whipping of human beings at the Texas border and having a “To Kill a Mockingbird” trial in Wisconsin. These situations make a mockery of our once respected rule of law and normalize the domestic terror groups that stormed our capitol earlier this year.

People without homes camp in the streets right in front of City Hall, while those elected to make changes fly off to summits. People cry out for justice, but public meetings turn into hate-filled circuses of racism and violence.

Some local law officers pledge “to protect and serve,” but deny science with a society-be-dammed and politics-over-community attitude regarding coronavirus vaccines, contributing to the death toll in a country seemingly gone mad.

Our city’s treasure, Balboa Park, long turned a blind eye to building a house for our nearest neighbor, Mexico, and there are no cottages yet for African nations.

We still have a wall that leads to thousands of deaths on our southern border. A statue of Pete Wilson who advocated no services for immigrants still stands in downtown San Diego. Tortillas are thrown as symbols of racist pride in a society gone mad. The list goes on.

I remember a time when recalls were not the norm, when elections were honored, when the news consisted of the facts and not propaganda. I remember a time when San Diego and the United States served as models to emulate.

Those days seem long gone. It is as if we are watching our world literally crumble. We have given up on a better future. But I still have hope.

We must listen to the earth, hear the cries of the birds, smell the sulphur of the fires, taste the dryness of our oceans, wipe the blood from our hands and act — not talk — to save the world.

Turn off the machines that make us hate; look into the eyes of that orphaned child; listen to the screams of silence; practice random love; be the change. The time is now or tomorrow will never come.

Enrique Morones is the founder of Border Angels, the House of Mexico and Gente Unida, a human rights border coalition.

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