This week Governor Rick Perry of Texas made the mistake of declaring that Juarez is the “most dangerous city in America.” Needless to say, the governor has taken his share of good ribbing because of his lack of geography knowledge. Clearly our governor knows better but in fairness he may be closer to right than you may want to believe.
In his book “Border People”, Oscar Martinez notes that when a river divides two nations from each other it will divide families into citizens of two countries. As a citizen of El Paso, I fully understand that the heart of my city beats with the heart of Juarez–or better in these days “breaks” with the heart of Juarez.
The violence that riddles the streets of Juarez spills over into El Paso in a number of ways. It spills over through the grief and sorrow of the families that are touched on both sides of the river. It spills over with the hundreds of thousands of people who have moved into El Paso seeking safety and sanctuary. It spills over through the economic impact of the decline of the infrastructure of Juarez and its spill over into El Paso.
From the window of my study I can see the streets of Juarez. We are “one” people divided into two nations and two cities. As Governor of Texas, Rick Perry has had to come to grips with this reality. His comment may be fodder for daily talk shows, but I hope that he keeps this perspective. We must come to grips with the reality that neither a river, a fence nor a line on a map can separate our lives from each other.
I am reminded of the words of Cain when he was confronted by the Lord about the plight of his brother.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
I hope we all know the answer is YES.