UNITED STATES: Tears for Haiti

Amanda, a woman with brown hair and eyes, looks into the camera during a visit to Haiti in 2010. Behind her is a parking lot and greenery.

Photo Credit: Amanda Lynn

Amanda Lynn on her last visit to Haiti in 2010.

Amid civil unrest in Haiti, Amanda Lynn makes an urgent plea for true security in a nation longing for peace.

The need for destruction has ravaged Haiti since slavery, and it's time to put it to bed.

Once again, I'm crying tears for Haiti. Abused and hated as a child, I was a restavek in my own home. I began learning about Haiti at age 14 and visited there several times, with the dream of returning one day. The past month in the country I love has been hellish, replete with kidnappings and gang violence that never ends. 

Back to reading policy papers I go, trying to find answers and solutions to Haiti’s seemingly intractable problems, back to hoping for change. I see suggestions and recommendations pointing to security as the number one thing Haitians need and call for, but even the newest points seem more of the same.

The one thing that no one ever calls for in Haiti – except perhaps pastors and priests – is self-control. Ironically, I think it's the one thing that could save the nation. Personal responsibility in a fragile state paves new ground for seeds of long-term change and democracy to be sown.

Immediately appealing to the better nature of citizens via an ad, t-shirt, or radio campaign could bring real security by asking everyone to take a breath. To stop, just for a moment, from campaigning, screaming, fighting, drug-dealing, raping, beating, and policing.

While everyone is full of fear or out for themselves, the nation is dying. L'Union Fait La Force – the coat of arms in Haiti meaning strength through unity – is bullshit as it's playing out right now.

After our collective breath and momentary consciousness, our billboard ad, t-shirt, or radio campaign could point to an immediate eight-point plan.

1. Stop vying for power and control. Unity requires listening, patience, and conversation with others. 

2. Evolve into someone who wants to do good. Think of who and what you love, and vow to protect that and the loved ones of others if you can. 

3. Count your blessings. Do you have food today? A house or tent? A family? Your language? Your country? Black pride? Centuries of Black excellence and dignity to reflect upon and pull from? Your personal freedom? Yes, you do. You have choices. You can loot, rob, kidnap, and kill or you can uplift, unite, teach, and create. 

4. Unite by treating people like baby birds in your palm. Look at them with wonder and delight, knowing that this person is a fellow Haitian, a reflection of Toussaint's dream of a free Black state staring back at you with the desire for fraternity in their hearts. The two of you grasping for solidarity invites greater unity and allows others to join you in your endeavor. When you unite, not in the streets but in your hearts, you will have lasting peace that no outsider can bring, even with their billions. 

5. Rejoice that you have a choice. You can be miserable, or you can be hopeful. Do not rest your head on your hand in despair; you are alive, and you still have the chance to do something great with your life. Protect someone, feed another, and pray for others. 

6. Ignite a discussion with your neighbors to form unity in your neighborhood or region. Set your soul on fire with the call to be an agent of peace and personal responsibility, to set an example for your children, gang members, and the cynical and hard of heart. 

7. "Each One Teach One." During slavery, when Black Americans learned to read, they in turn taught others. Teach what you know, every skill, word, language, and survival mechanism. Teach the youth, elders, teachers, police, and politicians – that you are human, you have rights, and patience and self-control are necessary life skills for everyone. 

8. Yearn for better. The only thing that will create true security in Haiti is self-actualization for its people. Yearn for peace and create it in the way that only you can. Haiti is a nation full of young people, angry over the hand that life has dealt them. Yet, they love reggae and kompa, music that speaks of love and serenity. Tap into that, and sing instead of shout your way through each day. You will be happier and influence people’s consciences, calling them to the free and unified state that Haiti was supposed to be.

The need for collective consciousness is bubbling over in Haiti, and as a love and unity-based approach to security takes hold, individual consciences will cry out for peace rather than chaos and blood.

In 2010, I was raped in Haiti. Security then seemed like a real thing, with MINUSTAH, the U.S. Army and Navy, and the Haitian police force present in droves. I never dreamed that I would be raped with so many protectors around, but I was. On a rooftop and held all night, freed the next day to suffer my shame and hurt alone, in a foreign country with $30 in my pocket. I had nothing and no one, but what I did have – and still do – is the dream of a safe and secure Haiti.

I am not naive; I know that my rapist was a bad man and that there are many bad people in the world, but the problem was that he had no self-control. Not over his lust, his need for power and control, his hatred of paternalism and colonialism, his need to conquer my body as retribution. If he had only stopped and truly thought about what he was doing, he could have opted for self-control, and overcome his need for destruction. 

The need for destruction has ravaged Haiti since slavery, and it's time to put it to bed. When Haitians riot, they destroy only their sacred ground. It’s time for all of us to take a breath when it comes to Haiti. I know I need to.

I believe in my own and Haiti's capacity to be so much more than what the world calls us. We can overcome the obstacles that have been placed before us. 

From now on, I'll no longer cry for Haiti. I'll encourage true security through the establishment of individual self-control and personal responsibility, yearning for the day that I see Haitians learning to unite. Together, Haitians can be strong.


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