Within days of posting my last contribution Finn and I had the fortuitous opportunity of visiting the excellent Museum of Tolerance in Mexico City. Fully admitting I had no idea of the museum’s existence, it would almost seem synchronistic to come upon such a relevant institution so soon after contemplating tolerance in my latest blog. Fortunately I resist meant to be claims, as to do so would justify all of the bad of the world as well as those happy little moments we all cling to.
The museum chronicled the rise of the National Socialist regime in Germany and through the holocaust (an occurrence worth describing in detail in traditionally anti-semitic Catholic countries) and on to the genocides and mass-slaughters in Rwanda, ex-Yugoslavia and Cambodia. We even learned of the 1911 murder of over 300 ethnic-Chinese settlers in Mexico. The museum was well presented, meaningful and quite heavy for my eight year old.
Contemplating equality while negotiating the quagmire of Latin America’s widespread poverty and rigid class system exposes an obvious link between intolerance and desperation. In no way do I retract previous concerns about the actual beliefs of fundamentalist muslims, however it should be no surprise to anyone that adherence to extreme ideals must appeal more where daily conditions are desperate.
As we react to violent intolerance in our own society and around the world, let us not forget to maintain a conversation about providing real infrastructure and opportunity to the less fortunate. The liberal economic model certainly won the cold-war and this is probably a good thing, however when we ask people in marginal economic situations to take risks, the least our society can do is offer a cushion when some of the risks do not work out.
Referencing back once again to my concerns about Islamic beliefs – it sometimes surprises me even greater violence doesn’t emerge from the vast squalor and poverty in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria. The obscene violence derived from poverty in Mexico, Honduras and Brazil is well documented and occurs without the benefit of some glorious afterlife. Add the promise of concubines in a glorious afterlife and its it easy to see how poor young men will sign up!
Lastly, I would like to thank Mexico for another wonderful visit. During this trip we stayed with a family and enjoyed Spanish classes in beautiful Oaxaca. As compared to Cusco last year, we could clearly see the success of fortified public institutions and stability in Mexico, versus those of Peru. It would seem the sooner we can globalize human rights in a palpable sense, the sooner we may tackle the many frightening issues facing our global community. At its best Latin America is the embodiment of unity and diversity. At its worst it can be the ugliest of humanity.