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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Elena Herrada Message to TIME Committee Members About Efren's Recent Letter to the Committee

January 31, 2008

Dear friends,

I am writing to mention to you that Efren wrote a piece about butterflies and seeds, which he sent out broadly. It is a very introspective, reflective piece. What moved me most about reading it, though, was the idea of Efren imagining the beauty of such things, to which he has no access.

Efren is mining the depths of his imagination and heart to keep his spirits centered and balanced after a lifetime of incarceration. The fact of his innocence, of course, is a painful reminder of terrible injustices that surround us everywhere. There are people who knew he was innocent when they sent him away, and people who were not sure of his guilt when they cosigned his fate with those who committed this child to prison.

The steadfast faith he shows in his efforts to get justice, and inevitable subsequent freedom, should inspire all of us. He is not bitter and he is not self obsessed. He thinks about the world and people and conditions, and writes his reflections for us to share. He is aware of life's gifts, even from his prison cell. The mystery of life, of God's presence in the world, of the possibilities, are not lost on him. He is a person of inestimable intelligence and depth. It takes a great thinker and a disciplined soul to seek solace and find peace in a situation he did nothing to deserve.

My heart is heavy with the events of the world today. It saddens me to see our country continue in this terrible war, based on lies and greed, and the devastating effects it has on its victims around the world. It demoralizes us sometimes to think that there are people not only getting away with murder, but sending others off to do it for them. And taking our jobs and livelihood in the process, causing us all to live diminished lives. Demonizing people who are forced to cross the deadly border to escape conditions created by the same corporations that loot the world's resources.

We are standing with the people on the losing end of these deals every day. And that is where we'll stay. In these battles, there is only struggle, rarely closure or victory. But Efren's spirit inspires me to stay on the path of justice, to keep fighting even when there is no victory in sight.

It is in the spirit of gratitude for people like all of you, and Efren, who keep going, that I write to you and thank you for your gifts of energy, faith and continued renewal. The joys of life are found in those we travel with, and I am deeply grateful to know you all.

Elena M. Herrada