Posted by: rogermitchell | January 16, 2010

Some thoughts about Haiti and the nation state

In the post of January 2nd I gave some further thoughts on the nation state suggesting that it is a child of the partnership of ecclesia and empire to which the task of the ecclesia, misconceived as peace through sovereign power, has been handed over. It is basically a deformed structure shaped to grant as much sovereignty to the individual as possible while maintaining the financially most powerful elite individuals, families, global businesses and nations in their existing positions.

So what do we do with the current situation in Haiti? Here are three thoughts to work on.

i) Firstly, the situation brings into focus what we as Christians are about. The kingdom of God is firstly for the poor. So if we cannot honestly say that our lives are somehow contributing to alleviating the present suffering of the people of Haiti and its causes we cannot be at peace ourselves. Weeping, mourning, giving, going, praying, lobbying, continuing with the task at hand… whatever it is that the Spirit of God is initiating within us, we must collaborate with him.

ii) Secondly, the almost complete lack of an operational political infrastructure has meant that with the sheer size of the catastrophe what was there is struggling to provide even the most basic help for the people. At a time like this almost any structure is better than none. But its important to be aware of the history, of which I know only a few basics. However the population is mainly made up of the descendants of the discarded slaves who were obligated to produce the prosperity on which the now dominant nation states of the western world was built. They now look to us for help and we have more than just a compassionate reason for helping them. We would not exist without them.

iii) Thirdly, the question of why they have not found a working infrastructure with which to function before this current devastation is partly answered by facing the fact that they have long been at the bottom of the nation state pile, down among the states that the west have attempted to obligate into our form of representative democracy but without the superior power and money that enables us to achieve the degree of prosperity and protection that our determination to hang onto and increase has left them without. The help from the UN and the government backed NGOs allows us to continue our dominance with good conscience and general electoral and media support, and if we succeed in helping the now desperate people of Haiti it will no doubt strengthen this sense of the positive power of the nation state and the international institutions that support it or are supported by it.

In conclusion the situation in Haiti serves to illustrate how unfit for purpose the nation state is to bring peace and justice to the nations. While those of us in the west who benefit from the most powerful of its structures can thank God that we are not in the terrible trouble that our Haitian brothers and sisters are in, and that our state structures are able to help them just a little at this time, we must not, and more than ever we cannot, fail to reimagine a new way of living by the kingdom of God and to give ourselves to it whatever the cost.

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Responses

  1. Indeed. A much better and more constructive response than that recently espoused by Pat Robertson of US christian television fame (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5TE99sAbwM).

    • Thanks Stephen,
      I’m replying to your and Connie’s response in today’s post given the importance of the issues.
      Cheers, Rog

  2. Thanks for this Roger. We also were saddened by Pat Robertson’s response. We certainly do need to keep rethinking how best to walk and work with the poor. After all these years and all the organizations working in Haiti to bring help and relief so little new life and freedom seems to have happened for the Haitian people.

    • Good to hear from you Connie. I’m replying to your and Stephen’s response in today’s post because of the importance of the issues involved,
      Blessings,
      Roger


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