Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti on my Mind and Heart

As the world turns its eyes and humanity to the devastation in Haiti, I pray that out of this exacerbation of the suffering that country has endured, something spectacular and unimaginable will eventually manifest -- on the scale of their birth as an independent nation. Haiti is the only Caribbean country to obtain their independence through militarily defeat of their colonizers, the French, in this case. Touissant L'Ouverture led their victory. My uncle and cousin are named after him. And what a tremendous price Haiti has paid! It is no coincidence that they are the poorest country in that part of the world. They have been made to pay.

The average person in the developing world is immensely ignorant of the history and traditional religion of Haiti. I'm reminded of what pianist Eubie Blake said once about the fact that we don't know anything about Paul Revere's horse, only about Paul Revere, because he, not the horse, told the story. In his book, Quitting America,Randall Robinson, former head of TransAfrica, an organization that spear-headed the divestiture movement against S. Africa, gives an informed, little known history of Haiti and the role of the U.S. and Europe in its destabilization and poverty. I learned a great deal from him.

Vodou, a religion observed by significant numbers of Haitians, has been demonized by the Pat Robertsons of the world, and ridiculed by many of the intelligent folks of the world. I present as evidence the term 'vodoo economics' used by highly educated folks who get op-ed space in the New York Times. I try to imagine the term 'christian economics' with the same meaning ascribed to 'vodoo economics' and I can not get a shred of visual traction.

As many of us send money through various organizations to assist in the recovery, let's also pray that water, at the very least, arrives within hours. Two days in the Caribbean heat without water...I can't even imagine one dry day. Clean water for the Haitians, and miracles by the moment, I ask.

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