By Jane Bauer
The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.
-J. William Fulbright
Here is what I know about you- you have an interest in Mexico and you speak English. Perhaps your interest is only in enjoying this country’s amazing beaches, ruins or sipping a margarita by the pool or possibly by this point your interest has extended and you are curious about its history, its people and its traditions, maybe it is even a place you call home. If you are a regular ‘The Eye’ reader then you may have noticed that our format tends to follow a theme with each issue. This month’s theme took us on a yellow brick road adventure- starting out in Kansas with the broad theme of ‘drugs’ and ending somewhere in Oz with a culmination of ideas. I will admit I had visions of a gritty issue with hot topics such as the poppy fields of Sinaloa or profiles of Mexico’s top crime fighters. Instead the theme of ‘drugs’ took us to healing, to big pharma and since it is November we wanted to include something about the revolution. Of course there are the articles on community happenings such as the upcoming spay and neuter clinics for cats and dogs as well as information about helping villages affected during the rainy season.
As I was laying out this issue and looking at each of the pieces submitted by our fantastic and dedicated writers, a larger picture started to form because of a few things that were happening simultaneously. As I read Brooke Gazer’s piece on the revolution I was also reading Malcolm Beith’s intriguing book “The Last Narco”, a gritty and riveting expose of the drug trade in Mexico. What struck me were the similarities between some of today’s most feared drug lords and these historical revolutionaries; many were born in small rural villages, they had little access to education, used violence for reform, spent a portion of their lives in hiding, their exploits are sung about in folk songs and narco-corridas and some have developed a Robin Hood type reverence.
While I was making these connections a couple of other things clashed together. I happened to be in Oaxaca City the day the children went back to school after yet another teacher’s strike just as I was sent a clip of Malala Yousafzai, the 16 year old recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was speaking about the importance of education as I read Carole Reedy’s piece about the library in the Pochutla jail- a place I have visited myself on occasion and witnessed the poor conditions which inmates have. I also pondered the teacher’s situation- they are rallying against standardized testing. What if the teacher’s themselves were trained to do their job? Would they be striking or would they welcome the opportunity to show their stuff? To say nothing of the thousands of schoolchildren who went without classes for close to six weeks this fall! As these things collided a new theme emerged that I think ties this issue together- dignity.
We should all have the right to live dignified lives. It is a given that countries with a higher quality of life and with available quality education have lower crime rates and less violence. So when Malala said of her situation “I need to tell the world what is happening” I thought “yes tell the world”. Let our concern for humanity extend beyond borders, because as the world gets smaller the butterfly effect of others suffering and injustices is inescapable.
See you next month,