Book by John Maxwell
How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists
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Defence of the Disinherited
There is a rape in progress next door. We
know; we saw the rapist enter the house, we heard the shouts of
alarm, the calls for help, the screams of the tormented victim
echo through the neighbourhood. Our neighbours go about their
business as usual. What do they care if, like Kitty Genovese so
many years ago, the victim is slaughtered in full sight and
sound of her neighbours. It is not our business, they say. We
don’t want to get involved.
And we are closing our windows and
drawing the curtains, because the rapist’s brother is coming
to tea with us. We don’t want him to be unduly
discountenanced, to be upset although he is one of those who set
up the attack.
At this moment eight million Haitians are
languishing under the rule of killers, torturers and
‘face-choppers’. Many are in hiding, as was the Prime
Minister, Yvon Neptun, who last Sunday gave himself up rather
than be murdered as a “fleeing felon”. Some are in
exile, as are the President of Haiti, his wife and children,
with their human and political rights torn from them by
gangsters and terrorists.
And we, Caribbean people, are preparing to
entertain Gerard La Tortue, an absentee businessman/bureaucrat,
who now claims to be the Prime Minister of Haiti.
This is the 200th anniversary year of
Haitian independence and once again, the Haitians are voiceless,
bereft of their rights , disinherited of their history and their
dignity and abandoned by their neighbours, their soi disant
friends – some of the very people they help rescue from
As UNESCO says: ‘'The uprising in Saint-Domingue
. . . which began on the night of August 22 to 23, 1791, played
a decisive role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave
trade. August 23 is celebrated each year as the International
Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.”
A Gothic Obscenity
This year is the International Year
to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery, declared so by the
United Nations on January 10, 2004. Haiti’s slaves
abolished slavery in 1793, the only slaves ever to achieve that
distinction. In this international year commemorating the
struggle against slavery, the fact that Haiti is in a cage
should put all Earth in a rage.
It is an obscenity.
The so-called civilised world, like
the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, is about to
delicately draw up its skirts and pass by on the other side,
leaving 8 million human beings to languish and die, all because
their ancestors 200 years ago decided to make concrete the idea
that every human being should have the same rights as every
The Haitian revolution was the only
one of the three great revolutions of the eighteenth century
which implemented all of The Rights of Man. They have been
paying the price ever since. As the cynics say – No good deed
ever goes unpunished.
It is our duty to come to the aid of Haiti.
As the Cubans have said: "We
Cannot Abandon Haiti !"
Haiti has suffered for 200 years from the
lies, obfuscation and deliberate misrepresentation of people,
organisations and states motivated by an atavistic racism, by
a deep-seated fear of real human freedom and a profound
inability to appreciate the real genius of a people driven
by the urge to bring freedom to all.
The Haitians have managed to survive in the
face of the most long-lasting and purposeful genocidal campaign
in history. They suffered because they helped Bolivar, because
they were bold enough to offer soldiers to help Lincoln free the
American slaves, because they understood the indivisibility of
freedom and liberty.
They suffer because they defeated and
repudiated slavery. Had they been Europeans, their valour and
nobility would be celebrated in song and story, in legend and
One of my email correspondents recently
described Haiti as an international crime scene, and he is
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi
Annan and the UN Security Council are attempting to
licence the latest attempt to return Haiti to unfreedom. We, who
claim to be democrats, to love freedom and liberty, will be
accomplices in this latest crime if we do not do everything in
our power to set Haiti free once and for all.
Is Freedom really Indivisible ?
If Haiti is not free, none of us is free.
When Haiti helped Bolivar – alone and
friendless – she gave him all the arms, money and support
that she could. She asked only one thing of him – that in
freeing Latin America he should also free its slaves.
I suggest that this gesture bequeaths to us
an inescapable duty – to free Haiti from its bondage, to allow
Haitians to decide their future for themselves to give
Haiti back its freedom.
WE have no arms and we do not need arms.
What we have is more potent than arms.
We have the power to move the conscience of
the world, of humanity. We have the power to make a big
difference to the lives of the Haitian people and of the
oppressed all over the world.
What we need to do is to bring to
bear the pressure of world public opinion, to relight the fire
that the Jamaican Bouckman lit in 1793, to make it impossible
for Haiti to be subjugated once again by stealth, by deceit and
double dealing and treachery in the service of racism and greed.
We don't have to do anything spectacular.
All we need to do is to try to keep the attention of our
neighbours focused, on the reality of Haiti. And we need to keep
on doing it.
We can start by circulating factual
information on Haiti, to our friends, to people of influence in
whatever society we live, to journalists, commentators,
columnists and editors, most of them prating grandly about
democracy and freedom but doing nothing either to advance or
I have long been stirred by the
history of the Haitians, particularly since I read C. L. R.
Black Jacobins nearly half a century
ago. Since then, I have had many Haitian friends, most of them
refugees from the persecutions of the Duvaliers. I went to Haiti
in 1964 in an unsuccessful attempt to interview Papa Doc. I
returned in 1996 when CARIMAC – the Caribbean Institute for
Media and Communication – and the PANOS Institute began a
programme for training journalists after the first restoration
of President Aristide.
I have met President Aristide twice and I
have read two of his books – his autobiography and
Parish of the Poor. I have a tremendous respect for this man
and for his country and the movement which he leads, all
unmercifully libelled by the so-called Free Press of the
In one of my earliest columns about Haiti
this year, I quoted a report by David Gonzalez about
on an American doctor named Paul Farmer who founded a clinic in
Haiti in 1980 and had been there ever since.
Farmer was quoted as saying "One of
the world's most powerful countries is taking on one of the most
impoverished," he said of the United States decision to
withhold aid. "I object to that on moral grounds.
Anybody who presides over this blockade needs to know the impact
I was fascinated by the sound of Dr Farmer
and I quoted him again the following week
"… there's no topsoil left in
a lot of the country, there are no jobs, people are dying
of AIDS and coughing their lungs out with TB, and the poor
don't have enough to eat. These are problems in the here and
now. Something has to be done. Haiti is flat
This quotation came from an American writer
named Tracy Kidder whose piece on Haiti I read in The Nation.
A few weeks later, Tracy Kidder sent me by airmail, his book on
Paul Farmer – Mountains Beyond Mountains, – which won
a Pulitzer Prize a year ago As Kidder says, Farmer
is not only out to heal Haiti but the world. Now that I m
in touch with both men by email I can say that my life has
been immeasurably enriched by my contact with them, even though
we have never met, physically.
Farmer’s clinic is not in Port au Prince,
the capital, but out in the bush – in a place that
seemed to Tracy Kidder like “the end of the earth, in what was
in fact one of the poorest parts of the poorest country in the
Western Hemisphere. I felt I’d encountered a miracle.”
Indeed he had, as became clear to him over
days and months an years in which he and Paul Farmer have become
close friends and allies.
“In Haiti, I knew, per capita incomes
came to a little more than one American dollar a day, less than
that in the central plateau [site of the clinic] …And here, in
one of the most impoverished diseased, eroded and famished
regions of Haiti, there was this lovely walled citadel, Zanmi
Lasante. I wouldn’t have thought it much less improbable if
I’d been told it had been brought by spaceship.” Kidder
described the policies of the clinic: “Everyone had to pay,
that is, except for almost everyone. And no one – Farmer’s
rule, – could be turned away.”
It would be insane to attempt to try to
condense Kidder’s wonderful book, or the facts of Paul
Farmer’s life and work. But you may gauge some of
Farmer’s effect. Zanmi Lasante built schools, houses, communal
sanitation and water systems throughout its catchment area. It
vaccinated all the children, greatly reduced malnutrition and
infant mortality, launched programmes for women’s literacy and
the prevention of HIV/AIDS, reduced the rate for HIV
transmission from mother to child to 4% about half the current
rate in the US. “In Haiti, tuberculosis killed more adults
than any other disease, but no one in Zanmi Lasante’s
catchment area had died from it since 1988.”
I am moved by the story of this man – a
white American –who set out to help a few poor, black
villagers and started an unstoppable movement. Because, not
content with his work in Haiti, Farmer is on a more or less
successful campaign to reduce the cost of drugs for the
treatment of intractable diseases in the Third World He has thi
revolutionary belief that every human being, no matter how
poor, is entitled to adequate medical treatment.
And with all the time he spends walking up
hill and down gully in Haiti and travelling the world to
influence drug companies and governments, Farmer still has
time to be a very effective Professor of Medical
Anthropology at Harvard. Most of his salary plus money he begs
from people and foundations, goes into his work. He was thrown
out of Haiti when President Aristide was first deposed a decade
ago and despite the attentions of the army, his clinic survived,
though most of its programmes, literacy, vaccination etc. were
They were again interrupted by the
latest usurpation of power. But farmer and his Haitian and Cuban
doctors and staff believe that they can overcome even that, even
after the recent killer floods. In Peru, where
Farmer has had a great deal of influence, his students and
others have gone a long way to obliterating multidrug resistant
With all this, Farmer finds time to
write learned articles helping to revolutionize the treatment of
dangerous diseases all over the world, and also to be an
unabashed partisan of justice for Haiti . He is the
author of many books, including "The Uses of Haiti"
and most recently, "Pathologies of Power." He
was awarded the American Medical Association's "Outstanding
International Physician Award" in 2002.
I believe that his story, and his
writings about Haiti, demonstrate one incontrovertible fact: one
person, one man or woman, armed with a true sense of duty can
change the world.
Margaret Mead said it well:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed
citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that
Copyright 2004 by John Maxwell COMMON SENSE 424
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* * * * *
Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All
By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that
wealth is rooted in much more than the
market. True wealth has more to do with
what's in your heart than what's in your
wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons
became one of America's shrewdest
entrepreneurs, achieving a level of
success that most investors only dream
about. No matter how much material gain
he accumulated, he never stopped lending
a hand to those less fortunate. In
Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare
blend of spiritual savvy and
street-smart wisdom to offer a new
definition of wealth-and share timeless
principles for developing an unshakable
sense of self that can weather any
financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy
can make you money, but money can't make
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Civilization: The West and the Rest
By Niall Ferguson
The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years. All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations. How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? In Civilization: The West and the Rest, bestselling author Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, consumerism, modern medicine, and the work ethic. These were the "killer applications" that allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest, opening global trade routes, exploiting newly discovered scientific laws, evolving a system of representative government, more than doubling life expectancy, unleashing the Industrial Revolution, and embracing a dynamic work ethic.
Civilization shows just how fewer than a dozen Western empires came to control more than half of humanity and four fifths of the world economy.
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