By Judith Menchaca
We’ve all heard variations of the expression, “your expectations will set the limits for your life.” If you expect little, it can be projected you will receive little, and vice versa. Great expectations produce the great outcomes we all deserve. Though we can readily apply this axiom to our daily lives, it is unfortunate that we fail to recognize the potential impact this mindset (or lack thereof) has on our community.
More often than not, I hear references such as, “only in Laredo” or “typical Laredo.” It seems as if at every corner, we are putting Laredo down by somehow tying most if not all perceptibly undesirable instances to the fact that they have foundational ties to our city. In fact just last week, a friend of mine (who moved to Houston more than 15 years ago) made a comment on her social media page referring to an “unqualified” school attendant who “sounded like she was from Laredo.” These instances occur all too frequently and it is sad to have to acknowledge the poor sense of self-esteem we as “Laredoans” truly have. But it’s no wonder, with so many derogatory messages being sent and received, the natural consequence is that we would suffer from a low sense of community and fellowship. The negativity of our communal “inner critic” is so brutal that we truly have a genuinely distorted image of our sense of self. Not unlike the self-bully many consciously battle on a daily basis.
It’s disconcerting to hear how even the slightest display of ignorance or arrogance, corruption, fraud or injustice is somehow attributed to the fact this occurrence is in some way, attributed to it’s foundational ties to Laredo or its’ people.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if rather than using our insidious voice to belittle and berate our hometown, we all learned to recognize and appreciate our hometown for what it is – an extension of our “self?” If we could learn to treat it with the same sense of self-respect, self-love, appreciation and admiration we assert on ourselves, we may discover that Laredo actually is a great place to call home. Laredo has shown me that in spite of what our country is facing, this community continues to thrive in various facets. It’s one of the largest ports of entry, thriving in the transportation and logistics arena. Banking, financing, and construction are typically hyperactive. The self-employed Laredoan is another very common attribute. And our close proximity to Mexico makes the government sector one of our largest employment opportunities. Laredo is also a very safe community. Crime rates are so low and random violent crime is practically nonexistent. However, during my travels to the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the Christmas break, I was asked how I managed to keep my children safe living in such a “violent” community. Though I acknowledge being in close proximity to Mexico would indeed account for some of the misconception. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of an influence our own citizens have powered that engine of fallacy.
However, having Mexico as our neighbor shouldn’t be deemed as a topographical disadvantage. It is a pertinent power source for our economy. Though I do agree that due to our geographic location, the intense yearlong heat and lack of seasons makes it dreadfully difficult to sustain diversified entertainment. However, we would
never focus on our select individual flaws to define ourselves. Instead, the healthy individual acknowledges their inner strength, beauty and uniqueness. So should we recognize Laredo’s assets and express our gratitude for its distinctiveness as well. I couldn’t help but wonder how much of that distorted image have our citizens have and continue to contribute to.
The sad truth is that it doesn’t matter what accomplishments the city of Laredo can rightfully claim. Nor do the city’s valiant efforts for growth and prosperity have any weight among our constituent’s attitudes. Not while the powerful inner critic that hides in recesses of our minds and relentlessly chastises and discounts our city’s achievements. Being that we are 95% Hispanic, you would assume we would have a stronger sense of community and belonging. We are after all, primarily a Catholic/Christian based community. Raised with close knit ties to family and community. But rather than showing appreciation and gratitude for our hometown, it is customary and expected that we communicate negative messages that we ourselves are believing. Everywhere you go “Laredoans” make reference to our corrupt politicians and law enforcement officers, as if they were unique to our city. And drug busts, the uneducated and homeless people are also isolated to our home. It’s in moments like these, I feel the overwhelming urge to remind people that IH35 runs both North and South and perhaps it is best for some to leave for a while and experience what their favorite communities are like. Perhaps then they will come back to view Laredo with a new set eyes. Unfortunately, most never do.