This last weekend, yet again, horrific shootings happened in Dayton and El Paso. While I believe there are broad based steps that can be taken which will necessitate everyone yielding something, I remain saddened by the fact that we live in a country in which right decisions are subservient to partisanship and pressures for re-election. Our nation’s inaction since Columbine, in my view, does not reflect any faithfulness to Matthew 22: 34-40, which is the foundation of our faith and lives. This is not a partisan statement, but rather one that comes from a pastor, not a polarized politician.
El Paso has been part of my family for a long time. It is where I feel most grounded, largely because of the multiple generations of my family that have called the city home. It is a special place filled with great and humble and family oriented people, despite economic challenges. It also remains one of the safest cities in the US regardless of the events of last weekend and despite the fact it is on the border. Citizens of El Paso and Juarez have never viewed the border as a problem, but rather as a unique blessing to be celebrated. Indeed the two places are interdependent in most definable ways.
This week I was asked by a leader of the city to write a letter to the editor of the El Paso Times. I have done so. Being limited to 220 words was not easy, especially for a preacher. Anyway, I have included my letter, not because it is a magnum opus of thought, but rather I just wanted to share what has been on my mind and in my heart. Love and prayers to each of you.
Dear People of El Paso:
As my family has been part of the community for over 120 years, I know well the soul of the city. El Paso is the place it is because of its people. I believe the kindest, most generous, resilient, humble, loving human beings anywhere call El Paso home. Yesterday members of our congregation joined me in continuing diligent prayer. We pray for strength, healing, peace, hope, and the will to overcome. Growing up, I remember the Rio Grande River flowed freely without cement banks or walls. The spirit of the time was one of a giant abrazo. There was a sense of joy, unity in diversity, acceptance instead of division, a celebration of intertwined cultures, gratitude for international interdependence, words that built-up instead of tore down, and a shared commitment to make El Paso a great place to live. I believe such things remain part of the DNA of the El Paso/Juarez communities and the future is bright. While I grieve, cry, agonize, and rail against voices and acts of hatred, it is apt to remember that El Paso is the Sun City. I believe light overcomes darkness. Love, not evil prevails.
With love and gratitude to all El Paso –
The Rev. Dr. Robert de Wetter (son of former Mayor and Mrs. Peter de Wetter)