If you want to understand the world, get closer.

Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy, talks about the importance of proximity as we try to grasp the nuanced realities of life.

“If you are willing to get closer to people who are suffering,” Stevenson says, “you will find the power to change the world.”

We have spent the last month along our southern border, trying to live and learn closer to the issues, putting ourselves in proximity and gathering stories along the way.

As we traveled along the border, we visited the line that marks the political division between nations and in many ways, our cultural division at home.

We have spoken with immigrants, asylum seekers, activists, artists, ranchers and border patrol agents—because being in proximity lets you hear what is real and true.

We have seen stretches of the border that are closed off by an imposing steel wall, and other places where the frontier is marked by nothing more than four strands of barbed wire. We have met families separated by the border and migrants in custody in the back of border patrol vehicles—because being in proximity helps you see the urgency and the humanity of the day’s headlines.

More than ever, I am reminded that the simple narratives we hear in our political rhetoric are incomplete and fail to address the complexities of the issues around economics, human rights, and the environment.

It’s comfortable to judge from a distance. But if you really want to understand, get closer. We’ll continue to share stories from the borderlands over the next few weeks. I encourage you to listen and hear new voices. Put yourself in proximity to those who live with these issues every day—because being in proximity will challenge your expectations and help you consider how you might change the world.


We visited the site where border wall construction was halted east of Nogales, Arizona in the Patagonia Mountains.

East of Imperial Dunes, California.

The border wall at Nogales, Arizona and just east of the city.

Calexico, California.

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