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a821: Responding to Satan/Protestant discussion (fwd)
From: Ken/Jenni Bosma <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am a Protestant missionary living in Haiti and I agree with those who
criticize Christians who claim Haiti's problems stem from a ceremony nearly
200 years ago dedicating the country to Satan. While I believe spiritual
powers influence human activity (politics, society, relationships) I believe
it is simplistic to blame Haiti's woes on one ceremony.
On the other hand, I disagree with those on this list who claim that vodou
is benign, and that Haitians are essentially innocent and pure at heart and
would naturally improve their condition if only the yoke of oppressors would
be removed from them.
I believe there is a spiritual problem in Haiti, just like there is a
spiritual problem in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, everywhere. The root of
this spiritual problem is a faulty way of thinking, a faulty way of
understanding one's "fit" in the world around him or her. Here are some
faulty beliefs that we hear expressed regularly by our Haitian friends, both
Christian and non-Christian:
1) "Se pa fot mwen." It's not my fault. Everyone who has lived in Haiti has
encountered this saying. But it is far more than an excuse. It means that
basically I am powerless to order my own life. It is a belief that others
(spirits, natural forces, neighbors, family members) can cause me to act in
a way that I might not otherwise choose.
2) Tomorrow may never come. The past and the present, I can understand. But
I have no clear understanding of the future. Therefore, I have no hope. It
is the attitude that keeps thousands of school-age kids from being sent to
school by their parents. It is the attitude that keeps me from planting tree
seedlings (I can't envision the future when I can harvest them.)
3) I cannot trust anyone else. Here history shapes thinking: slavery, forced
inscription into either government armies or opposition militias, betrayal
by tonton macoutes. In fact, trickery is a value held very highly by many
Haitians (Ti Malice does it again to Bouki-hurrah!) While trickery is good
if I can do it to you, this knowledge makes me very wary that you may also
be trying to fool me.
4) Acceptance of what life hands out. This is an admirable quality when
faced with pure survival as many Haitians are. But it also limits any
potential for change in either societies or individuals.
5) Fear of others' jealousy. A belief that one person shouldn't aspire to
accumulate more material goods than his or her neighbors. We have seen this
operate in our neighborhood where one young man refused to take a job
because he was afraid of being mocked by neighbors. He would choose to
remain unemployed rather than risk rising out of his poverty.
6) Money and wealth are limited. If you have more, I must have less.
Economics is seen very much as a zero-sum game. The economy is not
stimulated to grow because people are reluctant to spend and consume.
All the good development projects (water drilling, cooperatives,
reforestation, schools, road building, agriculture, churches) will fail if
the underlying worldview of Haitians is not addressed. Now, how to do that
is the $64,000 question. I wish us all success in this endeavor.