Sun rise of optimism

February 22, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

From a distance, and distance begets ignorance, it seems that that Haitians are down-trodden ( I think we can agree on that) and sorely tried by storms and climate catastrophes (that’s right too). As we understand them, they have been kept in abject poverty for generations, controlled by a succession of tyrannical governments with “kangaroo” elections, if I may invent that phrase. 

A run through of Haitian history and, to a lessor extent, the Dominican Republic, which shares with Haiti, the island of Hispaniola, is a tangled web of revolutions and counter revolutions, none of which have entirely settled Haiti with a long term, fair and reasonable, democratic government. 

Amid the villainy and disease -carrying devastation of foreign colonization and control, the fancy foot work with Haiti’s economy; the subsequent uprising of the populace for change – including a time in the early 1800’s when Haiti became the only nation to established itself as a result of a successful revolt of slaves –this is a history repeated over and over. 

In short, Haiti is a country with a history, since Columbus first bumped into it, in 1492, of extremely violent revolutions, where many thousands of people died.

In 2004 and 2008, hurricanes tore the country apart. In 2010, a 7.0 earthquake hit the country, destroying infrastructure and buildings and killing thousands; 2016 saw Hurricane Mathew, the worst hurricane since 1964, ruin all before it; whatever had been rebuilt was destroyed again. 

The United Nations contributed aid of about $120 million and the world poured money into the country to help rebuild it.

Yet, up to now, people are still living in abject poverty, tents in the cities. The millions of dollars that were sent by individuals and governments were meant to heal the damage and help the citizens. 

Recent evidence shows that hundreds of millions of dollars were pocketed by government officials. Hence, the chaos and anger in the streets across the country these past few days. With such a strong history of anger against corruption, this is not a surprise but it is tragic on too many levels.

For, there are no innocents. Everyone will suffer the storm of people whose ancestors, not that long ago, stormed and killed and died.

Here is the problem: even by consent, by association, a person can lose the hope of safety in such a storm upon storms. A revolution cannot take prisoners. It has to be for all or nothing because revolutions cannot boil up without serious provocation. 

Always, the base for revolution is imbalance: the wealthy, the powerful, the self-proclaimed conquerers – all those who would stand on the heads of the weaker or the well repressed for their own gain, will eventually lose everything from the backlash of subjugation. In the force of that unforgiving backlash, many on the periphery will likewise suffer, their own good intentions or youth or illness brushed aside.

In a more sophisticated society, repression, still ugly, can and does take other forms. More than one country has meddled from outside in the affairs of another by selling arms and supplies to both sides of a conflict. More sophisticated still, is the virtual pot stirring that our cyber world allows, using such subtleties as subliminal influence on television and online. 

The petty spying that goes on all the time, when the minutiae of our every day is recorded to manoeuvre us into how we vote and think, is a war of sorts waged on us, a subtle subjugation we don’t even recognize until the mad man is voted in. Whoever reaches the top of the pile by whatever means, will naturally be boosted and believed by those who assume they will benefit from their faith, never understanding, before their fall to the dust heap, that no one is valued or kept for long.

The only way to stay at the top is to continually intimidate and replace comrades, whose intelligence is less than those whose seats they have taken. The only way to stay at the top is make sure you are the smartest – or the worst – person in the room.

Well, well. In the continual tsunami of opinions, online, likely, minor revolutions are happening all the time. They are countered by the vagaries and distractions of our cyber lives. 

Even here in Orangeville, people are carrying signs (and good for them) A protest can be a revolution’s birth, depending on how long they are ignored. How long did it take, this time, for the people of Haiti to boil up and sweep everyone before them screaming their protests at being cheated again?

It is unlikely that here, in Ontario, we will actually storm Queen’s Park to stop the cuts being made to children’s education, those in real need of help, the tear-down of OHIP, the ruin of our farm lands.

Still, once we recognize the style, the subtlety, of our suppressors, what would it take for that to happen?

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