“Can These Bones Live, Lord? Being Optimistic and Truthful about Haiti’s Long history of Trauma and Suffering”

“Can These Bones Live, Lord? Being Optimistic and Truthful about Haiti’s Long history of Trauma and Suffering”

Given Haiti’s long history of trauma and suffering, and a fragile democracy, sometimes, it terrifies me that the country of Haiti and its people will be destroyed by natural disasters and catastrophies. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, floods, earthquakes, and other forms of traumas (i.e. economic, political, cultural, psychological, existential) visit the nation of Haiti and its dear people too often. Arguably, I have been struggling with this personal fear for a long time, and it has waged numerous battles within me. I believe that the most important task of a public intellectual is not to stir up the human conscience nor to awaken the national spirit. The concerning and people-centered intellectual will provide guidance to the people in fragile and tormentous times, help them to maintain a spirit of optimism and future possibilities, and will be sensitive to their state of mind and evolving psychology.

Nonetheless, I am a very positive person and always try to hold on to hope and not to let despair, hopelessness, or cynicism guide my thoughts and actions. I am not afraid to face this life’s challenges and moments of despair, desolation, and pessimism. Correspondingly, I am not afraid of the power of (personal and collective) lament and mourning over my country and my people.

  1. Resilience is not another word for safety and hope.
  2. Collective suffering is not often redemptive or salvific.
  3. Staying alive does not mean living out the quality life or the good life.
  4. Holding on to the end does not necessarily lead to restoration or
    victory.
  5. Resistance to corruption, poverty, poor healthcare, violence, trauma, mass death, economic exploitation, racial capitalism, international sanctions, and foreign invasions and interventions is not equated with collective power and self-determination.
  6. Holding on to a glorious past, and a history of revolution and resistance does not often produce collective peace, national unity, or political sovereignty.
  7. Being zealously religious and spiritual will not help escape existential death, even physical disappearance from this world.

Yet I remain convinced today that a country that has given birth to a François Makandal, a Dutty Boukman, a Toussaint Louverture, a Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a Louis Félix Mathurin Boisrond-Tonnerre (“Boisrond-Tonnerre”), a François Capois (“Kapwa lanmò), a Cécile Fatiman, a Suzanne Béliar, a Marie Sainte Dédée Bazile (“Défilé”),  a Catherine Flon, a Marie-Jeanne Lamartiniére, a Marie Vieux-Chauvet, a Jacques Roumain, and a Charlemagne Péralte will be resurrected from the dead, and its people will rise triumphantly in the midst of its ruins. The source of our strength is within us, and our Messiah is not and will not be a foreigner, but a Haitian-born or Haitian-descent Savior. The Messiah is not an individual, but the collective. The Savior is not a person, but the people.

Can these dead bones live, Lord?

Yes, they can.

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