Sunday, March 18, 2007

The "Brutal" Society?

In my opinion, Haitians are very patient people. They suffer everyday in all ways imaginable. I wonder how North Americans would act in the same horrific circumstances. I wonder how I would act.

Fifty years ago Haitian writer Jacques Stephen Alexis wrote a book "Compere General Soleil" (General Sun, My Brother). Alexis described a neigborhood in Port-au-Prince in the following fashion:

"In this neighborhood, everbody lived on the street. The people were simple, plain and generous. But when you touched what was theirs, they fell into a rage. Misery had made them intractable on that. They lived on the borderline between instinct and intelligence. They were the products of a society that brutalizes people to a level of semi-animal existence, oriented towards their immediate and constant concern: food. Everything was transformed or deformed by an empty stomach; love, pride, willpower, and tenderness. Lit up by the naked sunlight, their only entertainment was the theater, music hall and cinema of the bustling, noisy street....What other joy could they take in life except to laugh excessively at anything---the quarrels, the street and the fleeting intoxication of a few popular holidays." (Notes from the
Last Testament--The Struggle for Haiti, Michael Deibert).

I wonder what Alexis would write if he strolled through La Saline or Cite Soleil today?

The main stream media enjoys depicting the brutality in Haiti. However, poverty causes hunger and hunger causes desperation. And I have seen much more laughing in Haiti than brutal people. Doesn't that say something good and admirable about the Haitian people?

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