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|The Only Hope for Haiti||03/04/2004|
Once again, the tiny nation-island of Haiti
is engulfed in volatility and violence. Another leader -- whom some are
calling another in the long line of brutal dictators -- is out and
anarchy now reigns. As the "rebels" or "freedom fighters,"
depending on your view, take over the capital of Port-au-Prince, the world
wonders how to respond.
In an ironic twist of fate that illustrates how bizarre the situation has gotten, both the United States and France have sent in military personnel. We have sent a "stabilization force" to a country with no stability; "peacekeepers" to a place with little, if any, understanding of peace.
Our missionary partners in the "land of voodoo" contacted us this week via e-mail. "We cannot imagine how they are going to bring order to this chaos!" they wrote. From their position on the island, it appears that the capital city of Port-au-Prince is literally burning.
Haitians have suffered since the slave population rose up against their oppressors and declared their independence on January 1, 1804. Under the leadership of a witch doctor and slave named Boukman, the French were eradicated and a pact made between the liberators and their voodoo gods. To this day, an iron statue of a pig stands in Port-au-Prince to commemorate the "Boukman Contract." Even Aristide, though once a Roman Catholic priest, declared voodoo to be "an essential part of national identity" in March of 2003.1
In recent times, Haiti has continued to lag behind her Caribbean neighbors in virtually every way. Despite U.S. intervention almost 10 years ago, conditions continued to deteriorate. USA Today recently reported some startling statistics:
"Less than 70% of Haiti's children are getting or have received a primary education.Despite millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, plus the millions more from expatriates in the United States, Haiti's problems won't go away. In fact, one could argue that the money contributes to the crisis, spawning greed and deceit.
Critics on the political right are quick to point out that the Clinton administration restored Aristide to power more for Clinton's personal vanity than for the good of democracy. The political left blames the Bush administration both for doing too much and too little. "Today's chaos we made in Washington -- deliberately, cynically and steadfastly," wrote Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Columbia University.
But this political blame game falls woefully short of the truth. It displays a shallow understanding of the mindset controlling the people in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. The seeds of violence and corruption were planted long ago. The roots run deep. Eradicating the fruit of their wickedness requires change far beyond a new election or constitution. It requires a fundamental change in the character of the people.
At the same time a foolish, activist minority in America attempts to eradicate all religion from public life, Haiti can only be saved by an infusion of Judeo-Christian values. Murder, thievery, dishonesty and greed can all be outlawed, but until the laws of righteousness are written on the hearts of the people, Haiti will continue to cycle through violence and corruption.
Our missionary partners finished their correspondence, which was largely a cry for prayer in behalf of the people of Haiti, with this poignant observation: "Security is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of God."
Until a majority of the people of Haiti experience spiritual enlightenment, there will be no peaceful solution.
1. "Official recognition of voodoo in Haiti stirs enthusiasm, concern." By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug 2003.