| Sunday Holy Eucharist
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between Atlantic and Beach
Beach Haven, New Jersey 08008
Perhaps you're a visitor on Long Beach Island. Maybe you haven't been in Church for a while and would like to start back. Whatever is going on in your life, you are welcome at Holy Innocents. Your past affiliations don't mean nearly as much to us as your present affiliation with us.
© 2014 Frank B Crumbaugh III
We all have experience and opinions that form our reactions to the Millennium Development Goals, especially as those goals directly address poverty. Most of us could end a sentence that began: “Well, if they’d/we’d just do X” with a laser-light explanation of this or that pet peeve in the matter. The causes of poverty and the effects deriving from poverty are not effectively undone by our pontificated solutions. They form a web- a vast inter-connection of money and people and goods that eventually touch us by touching something or someone we’d rather not face.
Recently, a friend for whose heart and mind I have tremendous respect and trust pointed me toward a book, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence.. It’s a hugely important contribution in understanding how we might more effectively implement the MDGs because it points toward a foundation of all poverty. That foundation is violence. The authors, Gary Haugen and Victor
Boutros, offer a brilliant chilling analysis that goes past the usual and customary culprits to talk about violence as a fundamental component in poverty:
“When we think of global poverty we readily think of hunger, disease, homelessness, illiteracy, dirty water, and a lack of education, but very few of us immediately think of the global poor’s chronic vulnerability to violence—the massive epidemic of sexual violence, forced labor, illegal detention, land theft, assault, police abuse, and oppression that lies hidden underneath the more visible deprivations of the poor….these are not the large-scale spasmodic events of violence like genocide, or wars and civil conflicts which occasionally engulf the poor and generate headlines. Rather, it is the reality of common, criminal violence in otherwise stable developing countries that afflicts far more of the global poor on a much larger and more persistent scale. We simply do not think of poverty this way; the data is now emerging to confirm that violence has a devastating impact on a poor person’s struggle out of poverty, seriously undermines economic development in poor countries, and directly reduces the effectiveness of poverty alleviation efforts. It turns out that you can provide all manner of goods and services to the poor, as good people have been doing for decades, but if you are not restraining the bullies in the community from violence and theft—as we have been failing to do for decades—then we are going to find the outcomes of our efforts quite disappointing.”
“Restraining the bullies”- yep, that’s a task worth getting dirty about. It deserves our great effort and sacrifice. The bullies are not just playground toughs who steal lunch money, though such youngsters do in fact qualify as violent people even if a physical blow is not struck. No, Boutros and Haugen identify the ones who intimidate, the ones who get inside your head and make you anxious, those who give you a chill just because they’re around. Before it ever manifests as naked aggression, their bullying, their selfishness disguised as forthright action, their desire to dominate, thinly disguised as only wanting what’s best for us, already is violence. Name them whatever you like:
Taliban, any of several dozen governments in Central America or Africa, slum landlords, crooked union leaders and corrupt cops in any city in North America, or the domestic miscreants who harm those with whom they share a roof- they’re all emotional terrorists. The violence they bring begins long before any physical harm happens, and that is where impoverishment begins. If you’ve ever known the harm such people can do in the comfort of your 1st World existence, imagine how it must feel for a struggling family in a 3rd World environment.
Writ small the bullies are those very unpleasant people around us who eventually, if we’re lucky, get confronted and told where to go. Writ large, they are the same personalities playing for much higher stakes- the actual lives and livelihoods of millions. Writ small they annoy. Writ large they physically kill with no weapons other than self-interest and cynical hardened hearts; empathy is absent from them. Many good people make excuses- “it’s their culture (whoever they are), and we just don’t understand.“ WRONG. The abuses may have roots in the cultural assumptions of this or that culture, but the effects of the abuses are the same wherever in the World they happen. Diverting relief supplies for personal gain, intimidating women and children, manipulating the weak to harm those who are even weaker is violence that nourishes poverty. And while thousands of well-intended folks mouth sympathy for such victims, they won’t scuff the shine on their shoes to get any closer to the action to “restrain the bullies.”
“The number of people forced to live off $2.00 a day (more than 2 billion) has barely budged in thirty years, and the studies are now accumulating to make a nexus to common violence undeniable. This is an urgent call to make sure that we are safeguarding the fruits of those efforts from being laid waste by the locusts of predatory violence...”
“Predatory violence.“ Yep, that’s worth confronting too. Bullies, petty thieving gangsters, little men with littler hearts and grandiose opinions of themselves are predators, and their prey is more than the goods of the World. They prey on the people themselves- the people whose anxiety and fear is the first effect, the first poverty, that identifies the violence for what it is. It is exceedingly rare that predators turn from predatory practices. Like terrorists of any stripe, they are not amenable to persuasion and they don’t negotiate. They usually have to be stopped.
“The failure to respond to such a basic need—to prioritize criminal justice systems that can protect poor people from common violence—has had a devastating impact on two great struggles that made heroic progress in the last century but have stalled out for the poorest in the twenty-first century: namely, the struggle to end severe poverty and the fight to secure the most basic human rights.
Indeed, for the global poor in this century, there is no higher priority need with deeper and broader implications than the provision of basic justice systems that can protect them from the devastating ruin of common violence. Because as anyone who has tasted it knows, if you are not safe, nothing else matters.”
“Because as anyone who has tasted it knows, if you are not safe, nothing else matters”. In the patois of my Homeland, “Tru dat.”.
Whenever emotional, intellectual, and physical safety is threatened, poverty has fertile ground in which to sprout. Injustice is injustice no matter how elegant the excuses clothing it may appear.
It’s insidious and it’s closer upon us than we care to recognize. Why do we give it air time and column inches? Because it’s clean and convenient to do that. We feel as though we’ve done something about it. And then we get to go home at night. We get to take a break from something from which the victims never get a break.
Visit their website- www.thelocusteffect.com and see what Haugen and Boutros are seeing. The problem is not that they are seeing a new
thing. Rather, they are seeing an old thing that despite ever advancing age grows no weaker. Be sobered, and inspired, by their work.
Love you. See you in Church.
30 March 2014, being The Fourth Sunday in Lent
May 25-August 31
| Sunday Holy Eucharist, alternating Rites I & 2 ~ with music