Perhaps, in spite of this horrible tragedy, there will be good that comes out of this earthquake in Haiti. The nation of Haiti has suffered for far too long, its abject poverty all but ignored by the world. Haiti was the second independent state in the Western Hemisphere and the first free black republic in the world.
The tiny island, inhabited by free slaves, was owned by France, but the slaves wanted to be free and fought for it. Pat Robertson says the nation made a pact with the devil, a statement that shows he has no knowledge of African religions. No, the Haitian Revolution went forward with the blessing of a Vodun priest; the nation would be free, and the priest urged the inhabitants of the island, then called Saint Dominque, to work, to fight for their freedom.
Under Toussaint L’Overture, and later, Jean Jacques Dessalines, the freed slaves fought, and in 1804 won their fight for freedom. As part of an agreement in victory, however, the new nation, named “Haiti” by Dessalines, agreed to pay reparations to French slaveholders. The amount to be paid was astronomical, and the island never recovered economically.
Ironically, the United States grew as a result of the Haitian Revolution; Napoleon Bonaparte, discouraged by the victory of the freed slaves, agreed to sell land owned by the French to America. That was the Louisiana Purchase.
But back to my point: maybe this horrible tragedy is a good thing, or will be. The Christian Bible says “all things work for good for those who love the Lord.” The people of Haiti are reportedly very religious, though their nation is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
The majority black population has been governed by a minority white population, with mulattoes in between and other black “leaders” as representatives.
The government and the world, it seems, has looked away as these people have struggled to survive, many living on less than $1 a day, and mothers feeding what amounts to mud pies to their children. The world knew, but ignored the tiny nation, choosing instead to blame the victims for their plight.
At a Bible study last evening, I asked students what they thought about this earthquake. Did they think God was to blame? Were they angry? After all, these people are defenseless. They have so little. The students offered a mixture of answers, ranging from anger to confusion to sadness. But one student said, “Maybe this was God’s way of getting the world’s attention.”
Could be. It could be that God gets tired of seeing people ignored or suppressed and oppressed. It happened in Biblical times. It happened when the world got to see police officers putting dogs and fire hoses on innocent black children in this nation, spawning the Congress to pass laws that forbade racial discrimination.
The world couldn’t see Haiti. As far as the world was concerned, Haiti was poor, by its own doing and lack of competent leadership.
But now the world sees all this suffering, and can hear, on television and on the computer, of people screaming in agony, reaching for help. Perhaps the pact with the devil, as Pat Robertson said, was not made with the Haitian people, but rather with people who decided they would not help this nation which was bold enough to fight for its freedom.
The Americans and others were lauded for fighting for their freedom. It is a noble and right thing to demand one’s freedom. Bigger than that, it is a spiritual need. No human was intended to be enslaved and oppressed by another individual or group.
When Joseph’s brothers left him for dead, because they were jealous, they thought the deal had been completed. They forgot that there is a God of justice, and that God is the ultimate deal maker. Joseph suffered, but was then delivered, and said to his brothers, when they later needed him, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
I have to believe that God wants good for all the people he created. That would include Haitians.
It takes a long time sometimes for people to see God step in, but maybe, in spite of all this suffering and death, we are seeing God stepping in, saying, “enough!”
Perhaps now a more aware and sympathetic world will no longer be able to ignore the tiny island which is so close to America. Perhaps we are seeing evidence of the verse that says, “All things work for good for those who love the Lord.”
I hope so.