Paul Vander Klay
January 15, 2010
Beautiful writing. Amazing heart behind it. I enjoyed this, and was touched by it. Thank you.
100 years ago, it would have taken us weeks to hear the news.<br>50 yeears agao, it would have taken days<br>20 years ago, we would have heard it on the evening news or next day's newspaper.<br>Today...it instantaneous. So when I read about "why so slow", I put it in perspective.<br><br>Sure, we must act and quickly. After all, we were told "to whom uch is given, much is expected" by Jesus...so we should just roll up our sleeves and do it.<br><br>I blogged about this over at the Red Letter Believers Blog<br><a href="http://www.redletterbelievers.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.redletterbelievers....</a><br><br>
Not only did the French colony of St. Domingue produce considerable wealth, it continued to do so under the leadership of Toussaint Louverture. Between the devastation of Napoleon's re-invasion, the guerilla warfare against his army, the epidemics of yellow fever, the place was left a shambles. It didn't help that Jean-Jacques Dessalines had a huge ego and less vision than Toussaint, but what really collapsed the economy was simultaneously losing its biggest trading partner (the U.S.), and its second biggest trading partner (France). No market for sugar, coffee and indigo, no revenue, no roads, schools, clinics... A few leaders tried to find a way to rebuild over the next 50 years, but couldn't assemble the capital to do so, and what little there was became prey to petty faction fights. Haiti has never recovered, and it is mostly the fault of Thomas Jefferson.
How do we reconcile the Bible verse about helping the poor and needy with the verse about not helping people who are lazy and refuse to work?
Oops. I hope you are not implying that the people of Haiti are lazy and refuse to work. They estimate 200,000 people have died in this horrible tragedy. The people of Haiti need immediate compassionate help, not criticism. They need long term capital investment in job producing industries, but more than anything, they need a Jesus revolution. God loves them passionately and deeply, we need to catch the beat of His heart.
No I'm not implying anything except for the obvious. Immediately after the catastrophe the people of Haiti are doing absolutely nothing to help themselves - instead they are begging for external help - and when help didn't come ASAP because people aren't "standing around" waiting for an earthquake in Haiti - they riot and loot and worse, pile the dead bodies of their countrymen to block the ROADS preventing the very assistance they crave for. They pride themselves of being the first slave nation to break free from colonial rule but things since then have just gone from prosperous to hideous. They have no hope if they do not wish to change. No amount of compassionate aid will solve anything except extend and magnify their cycle of poverty. That's a sad fact. The whole continent of Africa is a living testimony that welfare aid does not help.
I think that the question of reconciling the "Bible verse about helping the poor and needy with the verse about not helping people who are lazy and refuse to work" is irrelevant. I also wonder about those "verses" you are implying. The fact is that thousands in Haiti are dead and a Christian can attempt to justify bias against the people or decide that sin is real and powerful and engage in compassion, however that may play out.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (New International Version)<br>10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." 11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. 14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.<br><br>I'm not against handouts per se. But when that is a way of life and the people do not wish to seek or engage in productive activity then you really do need to re-think this whole compassionate giving thing.<br>
David Brooks in his NYT piece on Jan 14 asked similar questions about the viability of long-term external development assistance <a href="http://bit.ly/5SniOl" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/5SniOl</a>. <br>All of my experiences with CRWRC and CRWM missionaries in Haiti (and other places) confirm that they are at least as aware of the dependency issues up close as we are from afar. Part of the difficulty of our position is that we observe from a distance mediated through various lenses. There are those in Haiti who will loot, those who will beg, and those who will work just as there are in any human community. In my experience Haitians worked far harder than most North Americans and simply received far less for their labor. Most of those substandard block buildings that collapsed were built by families who labored and saved and attempted to piece together a structure for shelter. We can't judge individuals from afar, but we are right to evaluate systems and make choices in the ways we wish to help. What that usually boils down to is selecting a trusted partner.
<i>They pride themselves of being the first slave nation to break free from colonial rule but things since then have just gone from prosperous to hideous.</i><br><br>Thomas Jefferson had a hand in that, when he joined the French boycott of Haitian goods and supported the French military's attempt to retake the island and re-enslave its people (fearing, of course, that American slaves would revolt if Haiti was successful).<br><br>Let's not ignore our nation's active complicity in the oppression of the Haitian people. If Americans were doing their jobs - and especially if American Christians were doing their jobs - Haiti would not be in the shape it's in.<br><br>Jesus Christ was weeping for the oppressed people of Haiti last Monday before the earthquake, and He continues to weep for them now. Let us pray that we can act self-sacrificially to bring true economic justice to that land before God's grief over the oppression of the Haitians turns to wrath against their oppressors.
I would like to think that if every building in my city were flattened by an earthquake, if there were no source of clean water, period, none anywhere, if the government agencies were themselves devastated by the quake, if my entire state, region or nation were suffering the same and unable to respond, if everywhere I turned there were thousands in the same predicament, and not enough food available for half of us, I would like to think that I would find a constructive way to start putting things back together without waiting for help from anyone. But I certainly can't say I would definitely be able to rise to the occasion. Sometimes, until someone with resources AND leadership abilities comes in to start the process, whatever one person tried to do is lost in the sea of shattered humanity. Incidentally, the whole continent of Africa is testimony that if you conquer and loot a continent, sort of half way overlay a global economic order and culture over intact traditions rooted in an entirely different economy, then suddenly pull out, the result will be decades of chaos. No, welfare doesn't fix that, but oblivious neglect doesn't either. It is a deep hole to dig the world out of. I think oxfamamerica has the best insight in how to proceed.
Really brilliant. Thanks for sharing.
The NYT posted a terrific op-ed piece that has a really good, brief history of Haiti. Very much worth reading. <a href="http://bit.ly/4NsUQT" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/4NsUQT</a>
nice way with thhe words my friend
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