Monday, July 18, 2011

Blogging about Honduras

How does one blog about a poor country where one lives?

A temptation is to concentrate on the horror stories – either about oneself (getting ripped off or experiencing bureaucratic nightmares) or about others (all the violence or shacks).

Another temptation is to highlight the exotic – geckos (little lizards that sound like birds), fruit, or torrential rains.

Another temptation is to present the people as either totally decadent and lazy or as incredible individuals who overcome overwhelming difficulties.

Another is to share all the good that I have done – or all the frustrations I’ve experienced.

But what do I try to do?

I generally try to speak from my experience, what I see and hear, the people I talk or work with.

But I also try to put my experiences in context. Thus I often try to connect the story with the wider issues of the political, economic, and social unjust structures here.

I also often connect my experience with my faith, especially with the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the option for the poor at the basis of liberation theology. 

I do occasionally write about events that I have not experienced but I try to make sure that I am being as accurate and fair as I can, which is very hard here where good information sources are hard to find. But I am reluctant to do this often and there are several US bloggers who do an extraordinary job of sharing stories or analysis of events here.

Of course, I write with a bias.

What are my biases?

The poor have a dignity as sons and daughters of God. They have as much worth as people with money and education.

The poor should be protagonists of their lives and their future. They don’t need gringos coming in and telling them what to do. They are capable and do a lot with what little they have.

The vast majority of the people in Honduras are impoverished, which is, I believe, a better term than calling them poor.

Honduras is beset not only with instances of corruption and lack of services for the poor. Honduras is best with major economic, social, and political structures that are unjust and keep people poor.

God loves the poor and looks on them with compassion.

God takes the side of the poor as he did throughout the Bible. God also has very severe words for the rich, especially those who hoard land and money.

Honduras needs radical change – that is, etymologically speaking, changes from the roots.

That change should come from the base of society – the poor. And they are capable, no matter how little formal education they may have received.

Where do these biases come from?

They come from my faith in a God who became a poor man, Jesus, in a country beset by an imperial power, but who preached a Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace. He was killed for this but was raised up and therefore life and hope are real.

My biases come from my parents who had incredibly large hearts and who also were blue collar workers who never graduated from high school but were very intelligent. They nurtured in me a love of learning and a love of the poor.

They come from teachers, friends, associates, who’ve taught me or accompanied me for many years.

And they come from walking among the poor – laughing with them, crying with them, hearing their fears and discouragement, asking them to share their faith and the way that has helped them live.

The first lines of the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,  Gaudium et Spes, sum this up well:
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. 

1 comment:

Laurie Matherne said...

Well written. I agree with your biased viewpoints. Totally!