Justice, Poverty and Ignorance – a Toxic Brew

John Porter Blog Leave a Comment

It was a beautiful summer day in Haiti. I was crossing the dry rocky river bed of the River Momance. In the rainy season, she overwhelms her banks with a raging torrent taking with her life and limb. But in the dry summer months, she serves as a thoroughfare, her flow barely a trickle. My Haitian driver and I were bouncing along in our small truck when we spied a motorcycle taxi bounding toward us at a dangerous clip. He was ferrying two women back from the markets on a small attachment over the rear wheel. Of course, the cycle flipped over the rocks and crashed. The women were thrown from the small vehicle and badly hurt. One had a broken leg and the other a deep laceration on her thigh. When the driver comprehended the situation, he sped off, leaving the women to suffer. As luck would have it, we arrived just in time. We carried the women in the bed of the truck to the nearest hospital. It was closed. Then on to the next nearest, but it too was closed. The third time was a charm. A doctor met us and admitted the women after we had paid $500 in cash to cover their initial treatment. Then we tried to alert their families so they would be able to provide the food needed for their stay. Such is the way of things in Haiti.

Poverty is not some inevitable component in God’s inscrutable plan. Human beings have created poverty and the misery it inflicts upon decent innocent people just trying to get through life. Poverty is an evil that we have caused and cause every day. This is why we must fight it and oppose it. Frederick Douglass once said, “When Justice is denied, then Poverty is enforced. When Poverty is enforced, there must be Ignorance. When Poverty and Ignorance hold sway, there is degrading Oppression. When human beings are degraded, then there is no Justice. When there is no Justice, no one is really safe.” Douglass wrote his social commentaries at one of the darkest times in our history. No one of us needs to debate his credentials.

I did return to the hospital later in the day to see if the women were safe and if the doctor needed any money for their treatment. Turned out: yes and yes. The woman with the broken leg was still there with her children. I asked her what one always asks in a hospital upon preparing to leave: “Do you need anything?” She shook her head indicating: no, but said at the same time, “M vle viv tankou yon kretyen vivan. M tre fatigue viv tankou yon animal.” One does not need to speak Kreyol to understand her sorrow. “I want to live like a human being. I am so tired of living like I am an animal.” Fredrick Douglass would have understood her and her lament. Forging Futures is trying to understand her as well. Come join us.

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