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From Mexico to the Middle East: The Oppressed Oppressors

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Last week I had the honor of meeting with Governor Cesar Duarte of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, on behalf of the Kabbalah Centre.

We spoke about the atrocities and tremendous challenges facing his state. In Mexico, 40,000 lives have been lost in 5 years. Many of the victims are under 18. Survivors are often left as orphans -- there are 17,000 in the state of Chihuahua alone. Towns are becoming depopulated due to violent killings, for instance, in Monterrey, where two drug mafias are locked in vicious competition.

We spoke about where it all started and how understanding the cause of atrocities can carve a path to peace.

I have been traveling all over the world in the past years, meeting people from all walks of life: from dignitaries to leading business people; from female peace activists in the Middle East to homeless teenage mothers in the Favellas of Brazil. My message to each of them is always the same: It does not matter if the problem appears to be economic, environmental, social or political; if it is terrorists, drug lords or politicians threatening our status quo. The real problem always boils down to one not so simple thing.

Human dignity.

Alas, the people of Mexico are not alone. Dehumanizing, terrible things are happening all over our world.

The turmoil in the Middle East continues. It seems every day brings a new revolution -- but these revolutions are not free from bloodshed, rape and murder.

Many of us think the wars in the world are about drugs -- as in the case of Mexico, or religion -- as in the Middle East.

But the poverty and human rights violations we see are in fact a result of years of our collective and repeated lack of respect for human dignity. The challenges happening now are the universe's way of showing us that our old ways don't work. We need to change our ways, before they kill us.

We are currently in the spiritual equivalent of Stage 4 cancer. What we see now are the effects of years of lack of consciousness. The cause is always the same: it is our lack of human dignity and our selfish behavior causing a universal backlash.

In Mexico, drug lords target people who have been treated as almost sub-human all their lives. They find these individuals devastated and without hope, many times with no family, and with few if any who care about them. The drug lords then show them a version of care that is all they have ever known, so why wouldn't they smuggle drugs for them and become their soldiers?

Are they so different from the dictators or terrorist factions in the Middle East? Why wouldn't a parent whose children's future holds more degradation and even starvation sacrifice one child as a suicide bomber if it meant they could feed and clothe the rest of their kids.

But if these people were not devastated, if they lived in a world that believed in the light in them and in their innate potential, would they make these choices? We create a change by seeing the spark of Light rather than the darkness in everyone we interact with. We must begin there.

Yes, Mexico and the Middle East are extreme cases where a lack of human dignity has been pronounced and exposed for years.

But what about the time we snubbed our neighbor, or screamed at our colleagues, publicly humiliated a waitress, or the homeless person we wouldn't even look at? It doesn't seem like such a big deal. But guess what happens when you start adding all our small slights up? Mine and yours and his and hers... Eventually our combined failures of human dignity create a backlash; the result is that the oppressed become the new oppressors.

Make no mistake, peace will come through people. We are starting to see glimpses of that around the world. But for that to happen in a real and lasting way, we need to take responsibility for the fact that the solution lies in our hands. It might seem like we can't influence world events but when we change these seemingly small and insignificant actions, not only can we change the world, but we will.