February 9, 2011
“… because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations … have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries.” Martin Luther King
Joegodson and Paul
A couple of nights ago, Joegodson awoke from a disturbing dream, trembling with fright. A short while ago, similar visions had appeared to Antonia. Like Joegodson, they left her terrified. We wonder if other Haitians are experiencing this terror in the calm of the night.
He is speaking to a friend on the street. Across the road are three young men with a motorbike. Joegodson watches another group approach with big guns, clearly intent on attacking the three young men. They shoot them dead.
The group grows exponentially, with bigger and bigger weapons. They roam the streets killing young men who are involved in all kinds of shady business. Some go shirtless, a sign of anti-social behavior in Haiti (except in your immediate neighbourhood). They have the air of chimeras.
Joegodson, on the other hand, is dressed decently, in his best blue shirt. The aggressors spare him because they see that he is a ‘citizen.’ (A simple word used to mean someone who hasn’t given up on law and order; someone who won’t be a problem.) But Joegodson is worried – inside of the dream and later, awake – for those who don’t have the good fortune to own a decent shirt, for the gang targets them as potential threats. And the gang kills them.
Someone in the gang of chimeras tells Joegodson that they are going to Simon. Joegodson is now terrified. He has been spared, but all of his sisters and brothers, nephews and nieces, friends and former neighbours, live in Simon. The chimeras start to descend. Joegodson follows.
On the way, he passes someone from Simon, an old neighbour. He asks the guy to join him to warn everybody that they have to flee. But as they arrive in Simon, they find that they are too late. The carnage is over. The scene is horrid.
A chimera, toting a gun in his hands, approaches Joegodson and tells him that he has nothing to fear. They are only killing people they suspect to be involved in questionable activities. But they have killed all of Joegodson’s family. He tells the chimera that there is an even greater war taking place and it’s between Satan and God. Joegodson advises the chimera to take refuge under the wings of God. Then he wakes, shaking.
Joegodson says that the dreams won’t allow him the comfort of non-violence. They force him to experience the violence that he abhors.
Earlier that day, a neighbour came by to talk to Joegodson and Antonia about the situation. He is a policeman. He told them that Martelly is allying himself with the old supporters of Duvalier. Joegodson doesn’t know if that’s true, but it sounds more than likely. In any case, however he looks at the situation, he sees civil war. Joegodson sees two options: reconciliation or terror. The first option would require reconciliation with the past and among factions. However, for those who want power, the greatest opponent of all is the notion of reconciliation and forgiveness. And so, Joegodson remained as frightened awake as he had been asleep.
As Joegodson was dreaming of the coming violence, the editors of the Globe and Mail were advising Aristide to remain in South Africa in order to avoid destabilizing Haiti. They criticize him for being a “polarizing” figure. Readers should stop to consider that word. It identifies all of those who understand that there are class interests operating in the world and align themselves with the oppressed. We suspect that Aristide does not subscribe to the Globe and Mail and that the editorial addresses Canadians. Nothing could make clearer the position of the powerful in the core capitalist countries. The stability that they seek is one of extraordinary inequality. People from the peripheral countries that the North – literally – feeds upon who dare to dream of a decent world had better go back to sleep. That dream is quickly replaced by the nightmares that disturb Antonia and Joegodson. Curiously, Antonia had dreamt of the assault coming from MINUSTAH; Joegodson had seen the violence arise from within Haitian society. There is no contradiction. All local violence is connected to a global system of inequality that serves the rich and is making them richer.
The events in the Middle East are underlining the problem. It would be hard to imagine how the people of Egypt could make their position clearer to the world. They reject without even a hint of equivocation the dictator supported by the United States for three decades. This theme is played out everywhere in the vulnerable countries of the world.
American planners entered the Second World War with every intention to take the spoils. Not even they dreamt of how big the prize would eventually be. Or the cost. However, the rich aren’t paying the price for their dream of limitless wealth. The poor pay. Everywhere. (Eventually, we all will pay.) One of the ironies is that the populations of the Allied countries think they fought that conflict to rid the world of Adolph Hitler – a tyrant who wanted to control the globe. In fact, they fought that war with a very similar goal in mind. And the Axis powers are onside.
Why do democracies exist in the rich countries and not in the poor, exploited nations? Sycophantic scholars have devised devilishly clever theories to explain the phenomenon. You have to be that clever to avoid seeing the obvious. They are well remunerated for their myopia. However, after Egypt, it’s going to be difficult to chide the exploited South for its lack of democracy. (Talk about blaming the victims!) The arms that keep the dictators in place are paid for by forcing into debt the populations that those arms control. The system is inspired … by Satan. In any case, propagandists are meeting in the think tanks right now planning the next justification for planetary oppression. However, we suggest that they don’t have to work that hard. They are overpaid. Their audience is really not that demanding.
So, why do democracies exist in the rich countries and not in the poor, exploited nations? Because those populations actually accept the system. They know that they have a relative advantage over the South and they want it to remain in place. The Egyptians have not inspired mass protests in the North for a more just world. Mostly silence and feigned bewilderment. And those who “enjoy” a relative advantage await the return of stability.
Still: there is something especially distasteful in those who pretend that, within this system, they will bring about equality and justice and dignity for all. They should be clear that they can do no more than assuage the suffering. Those preferred by the powerful work to suppress dreams. They are well funded to do it.