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#4086: US Military, a racist, and Haiti : Ruckle again (fwd)

From: James R. Ruckle <jruckle@citynet.net>

My original message was forwarded to Grey, not to the list, but she appears to
have quoted the essence of it.

> After the hundreds of years of Haitian history, through which Haitians have
> been inspired and supported by the Vodou faith, you ask this question?  Did
> you think it was a Christian ceremony there at Bois Caiman?  Do you think it
> is the Christian church which keeps rural majority class Haitians bonded in
> communities?

It was established last Fall that not all Haitian beliefs are Vodou. ANY religious
belief can bond people together, ESPECIALLY one based on fear; the Middle Ages are
a case in point. Some people claim that Papa Doc's power was founded on Vodun. The
reason that I ask is that people who believe in a capricious God or in capricious
gods are more likely to have a manipulative relationship with the world than a
forthright and hopeful one. On the other hand, sometimes the tail wags the dog - I
know one guy (in the U.S.) who is a Trotskyist because it offers the most
pessimistic world view he can find. It may be that Haitians do not believe in a
stable, eternal God because stability is absent in their everyday lives. People
everywhere tend to believe what they expect to be true, not what they want to be.

What I know for certain is that Haitians I was acquainted with were frequently
afraid that someone would curse them, to the point that I wanted to give them
Christian holy water to allay their fears. I also saw a painting at a  gallery
between Petion-ville and P-a-P that showed a Vodou priest seated at a table with
Satan to the left and Saint Peter to the right. In the background people were
climbing up a ladder (a staircase to Heaven?) behind Saint Peter and there were
demons doing something behind Satan. It's been 13 years since I saw it, but I
gathered the clear impression that a Mambo/ Manbo was supposed to compromise
between the evil forces that controlled people's lives on Earth and the good ones
that controlled access to Heaven. The Satan image seated at the table looked
rather like a wolf man - a being to be afraid of, but willing to bargain, rather
like a Mafia don with fur. If that picture, which was meant to portray Vodun
favorably, was accurate, then it does raise the question of whether Vodun accounts
for Haitians' natural buoyancy.

I am trying to initiate what may be the first dialogue our faiths have ever had;
please don't take anything I say as sarcastic.

BTW, I am using "Vodou" as an adjective and "Vodun" as a noun. Is that correct?

> It puzzles me that you don't see it, James, honestly.  Come on to our house!
> :-)

Thank you for the invite. If I EVER get back to Haiti, perhaps we can arrange it.
Or do you have a house in Boston? (I wish a travel agency would offer a
Corbetters' discount to Haiti. If wishes were horses....)
James R. Ruckle
"Defeat the enmity, not the enemy."