A coupleweeks back, I informed my students of my Christmas vacation plans. I told them I was going to Mexico and theywere thrilled for me. “Enjoy the sunshine”, “Eat a lot of tacos” and “brush up on your Spanish” they told me. I then informed them that I wasn’t going to the “nice” regions like Cancun or Acapulco. Rather, I was going to Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world. They then pleaded with me, “No! Don’t go! You’ll get kidnapped and we’ll never see you again!”
At that point I realized that I was heading deep into the heart of what frequent visitor to Mexico Blessed John Paul II called “the culture of death.” What I didn’t know was how very distant this culture was in relation to the one that my own country suffers from- the “culture of moral relativism.”
Anyone will tell you that as soon as the sun sets in Juarez, no one should be out and about. Others will even go as far to tell you not to go out at all unless it is completely necessary. There are many reasons why they tell youthis. Since the late 1990s, women have gone missing for years only to be found beneath the layers of sand dunes located just outside the city. Also, since Juarez is a heavily populated border city with El Paso, U.S.A, it is a mecca for drug cartels looking to pass their mercancia to American addicts and dealers. This business has become so intense opposing gangs slaughter each other on a daily basis attempting to gaincontrol over the city. It is not surprising to see the death toll higher thanthat of American soldiers being lost in the Middle East. Police corruption fuels each side withammunition and hopes of city domination. Meanwhile, innocent victims get caught in the cross fire, the middle class tiendas and shops become victims of extortion and blackmail, and even the poor are mugged for the little they have.
When one enters into a city like this knowing all that happens, you might think them crazy or suicidal. But this “culture of death” is nothing in comparison to the “culture of moral relativism” that is found within the souls of some people in the United States and around the world. Sure, while at home, I feel free, more secure, more confident. But for those very reasons, my soul is in danger. Because I am secure, confident and free, I need not suffer, fear, nor question my interiorconceptions of morality. In Juarez, right and wrong is defined every day. In the U.S., right and wrong need not even be contemplated as long as comfort and stability are not at risk.
In each culture, the majority of the population remains “good” while a small percentage ruins it for the rest. Unfortunately, the majority fear doing anything to change their situations. This fear settles for mediocrity and allows death and moral relativism reign. In Juarez, we fear our physical destruction, which provides a tremendous outlet to spiritual conversion. So why is it that in the U.S. we do not fear our spiritual destruction?