Leaving Colombia(of course on a jet)
by Randall Davis Barfield
Rated "PG" by the Author.
edited: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Posted: Friday, October 20, 2006
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I was restless. At least two incidents had contributed to my restlessness...
Leaving Colombia (of course on a jet) Several factors were involved when my little family and I left the country in 1984. One factor was me. I was unfocused regarding my work and work goals. I was restless. At least two incidents had contributed to my restlessness, although they were not exclusive, and these were the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Gloria L. and the new Conservative government administration headed by President Betancur (1982-1986). Of the latter, the Conservatives had won after the country's having spent the past 8 years under 2 different Liberal administrations. Those liberals, at least outwardly, were U.S.-friendly, so I was a fish in water so to speak, albeit foreign waters. President Betancur, it seemed to me at the time, tried to be as anti-U.S. as possible, at least publicly, which meant with the media. Enemy, I felt. The former incident, regarding "aristocratic" Gloria L., was both hideous and horrendous. Words cannot really describe the plight of this woman (wife and mother) accurately. She was from one of Colombia's wealthiest families, so, her plight would be similar to a Kennedy or Rockefeller daughter getting kidnapped in the USA (of course we had the Patty Hearst incident). Poor Gloria was held in captivity more or less 6 months by a group of urban guerillas. She was deprived of many necessities during those months, including nutrition, and was raped repeatedly, I understand. When she was killed then tossed out of a car onto a street at pre-dawn hours like an old shoe, it was rumored later that she was pregnant. I felt disgusted about this tragic incident. Does the "crime" of coming from a rich family justify such treatment? I could only think how barbarian and cruel it all was. Then, probably as additional argument for our going home, I said I wanted my daughter to go through primary school in the States, as I had. In spite of the family and moral problems we have in the U.S. today (Other countries don't have moral problems. Isn't it wonderful?), primary school is still a fun and exciting experience for any youngster, not to mention the needed strengthening effect it would have on her command of English. So, we left. In Atlanta it was get jobs and pick up where we'd left off, basically, as we had lived there before. While we felt more secure there, that feeling can prove to be false or tricky at times. Living in Atlanta, especially while you are young, can be fun and exciting and busy. Of course, this means you have a decent job and a decent place to live. So there we were, back in my home state and in a land that was "secure"; and we were far away from the land of the horror that was Gloria L.'s. Now comes Julie Love. I'd always read of those horrorific murders in and around the big cities in our country, especially those that occurred in New York City's Central Park (so did millions of others read about them). But those cities were Chicago, L.A., Detroit and others--not the smaller mild-mannered cities like Atlanta. Where was Julie Love? The media kept at it, kept asking this question. Posters and pictures were being pasted everywhere throughout the city. Not only was it where was she, but WHO was she? Well, it seemed that she was a kindergarten teacher who'd come from Alabama to live, study and/or work in Atlanta (like me and thousands of others who were born in nearby cities and towns). It was heart-rending to see how much her family cared for her and how much they so badly wanted her safe return to their bosom. Savagery is what happened to Julie Love, the same as what really happened to Colombia's Gloria L., the mother of 2 or 3 children. It seems Julie was driving alone and either her car stalled or she was taking money from an ATM at night (I hate those 'outside' ATMs) when she was spotted by these "gangsters" who were cruising the city and looking for trouble in the process. As we generally find in life what we seek, these cruel people found an opportunity with Julie to act beastly. Thus, Julie gets raped and killed. This is near the mid-1980s and Julie is in her mid-twenties. But the Julie incident, as heart-wrenching as it was, is just one more among thousands, isn't it? (There's Daniel Pearl to come along later.) Not until I began reading Ann Rule's books heavily did it dawn on me to investigate a bit as regards just how many murders were being committed each year in a given city or nation. There are a lot, believe me! Any time we deprive another person of his/her liberty against their will, we are acting like beasts, not to mention murderers (Just as Agatha Christie, I like murder only on the page of a novel.). Now, in the past year and a half, I distinctly remember 2 murders in the States in which the victims were from Colombia. They'd emigrated to escape a lack of decent security or living standard in their own country only to have that lack come knocking on their doors over there! That's one example of irony. A sad one. Of course, we came back. Back to the tropical country. Back in 1991 to its charms and laughter. "Party land" I sometimes say fondly. Because we were happy here. Life was never routine here (to say the least). But the biggest change was the lesson we learned about security. It isn't to be found in New York or Atlanta, Caracas or London, Calcutta, Tokyo or Moscow. Security is to be found inside oneself, like happiness. Security is a clean conscience as well as a decent relationship with the higher Power that one believes in. Security is doing something to help another (thy neighbor) in this wicked world, however small that help might seem. These are some of the things that comprise security. May God give us a bit of this security because it's there for us in the palm of His loving hand.