Some Natural Disasters are not so Natural, but Vodou (Spirit) will Prevail
Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here. In this world of trouble and wars a member must be ready to go. We look forward to things to save us but in a twinkling of an eye everything can be changed. Troubles of this world feel our heart with wage from Soweto to Stonewall, Birmingham to LA. We searching for hope that lie within ourselves as we fight against misogyny, racism, hatred, and pain. Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here**
I begin this post with a song written by Sweet Honey in the Rock because its title and lyrics invoke Spirit and Spirits. Furthermore, the song weeps and wails not only of troubles, but of justice, “justice that rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” It lets us know that the way of the world is not as predetermined as governments, private contractors, and multinational corporations believe it to be because Spirit and Spirits “can change some things” as the old people say. So, as we stand on the eve of remembering not only Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the Spirits that joined the movement for freedom in the US, I write this blog to acknowledge the power of Spirit and Spirits to deal with the injustices of what has happened and continue to happen in the country of Haiti.
This week I’ve read many articles and blogs about the devastation and abject poverty in Haiti and how international loan agencies and governments like the US (i.e. World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have benefited greatly by keeping Haiti in debt. I’ve seen Christian fundamentalist like Pat Robertson say vicious anti-Christ love statements like, “[ the earthquake is] a blessing in disguise . . . [Haiti] made a pact with the Devil in order to liberate themselves from French rule [therefore they deserve what is happening].” Oh, this sounds very familiar to his statements about Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, I’ve watched as CNN’s pundits contort their mouths and faces to convey the inevitability of rioting and looting saying with Hurricane Katrina’s conviction, “We heard gun shots.” In addition to all of this, I’ve read some of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism and I’m left feeling completely hopeless about the long-term fate of Haiti being left vulnerable to the free market’s social experiments. Yes, my heart grieves.
But, as the song says, “Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Can’t no one know at sunset if the next day will be here,” there is hope because there is Spirit and Spirits. For me Spirit and Spirits represent faith-based practices/rituals, spiritualities, religions, justice, transformative collective action, community, Love, and all the things that have “brought us this far a mighty long way” as my Sunday school teacher would say. Spirit and Spirits are the things that allow me to wake up each morning with a renewed belief that the world can change and that I have the ability to change the world.
And for some people of Haiti Vodou is their Spirit and it also was their collective frame for mobilizing against French enslavement and other forms of oppression. Though I am not fully familiar with the practice of Vodou, I do understand the power of believing in something bigger then yourself and something that embodies community, love, and justice. I know I am sounding a little sermonic, but my intent is not to preach. I just need to know that there is something more than greed, capitalism, and hegemonic power structuring the world and the only place I can surmise where this may be the case is in the Spirit and within the Spirits of people. It is in the faith-based, spiritual, and communal practices that preach love, justice, and community that challenge us to envision and create a world of collective peace.
However, right now, the world is not balanced. Wall Street CEO’s receive while many lose their jobs and homes. Lesbian women in Cape Town are raped to make them heterosexual. Palestine is constantly under siege. We are told that we should get the Swine Flu shot (yes, I said swine flu and not H1N1) because there could be a major outbreak in 2010. Governments tell us we need full body scanners to protect us from terrorist attacks even though this is an invasion of privacy and beginning of a one world security system. Multinational corporations can privatize water around the world so that people will have to buy bottled water and other beverages. Twenty black women can be killed and no one noticed they were missing. Levees can break because of lack of investment and we call it a natural disaster. A tsunami can kill tens of thousands people and we call it a natural disaster even though we know why it was so devastating. And Haitian men and women moan through stacks and stacks of concrete. Yes, my heart grieves for the past, the present, and the future.
But there is hope because Vodou is present. It was present when Gandhi marched non-violently against British tyranny. It was present when the Christian and Muslim women came together in Liberia and said, “Enough war.” It was present when Ella Baker worked with young people in SNCC. It was present and will remain present. Spirit and Spirits will cradle Haiti in her bosom because what we see is not the final reckoning because as the Sweet Honey in the Rock’s song says, Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end.”
**I had to listen to the song to type of the lyrics so it may not be the right words.