Wednesday, February 26, 2014
This In-Between Month, Days 8 and 9: The Locust Effect
Just over a week back and all other thoughts these last two days have been unable to escape the terminal gravity of this book. Everything I say or feel is caught in this convergent orbit around it, toward it.
In the following quote Gary Haugen sums up the title and the premise of his new book The Locust Effect. “Without the world noticing, the locusts of common, criminal violence are right now ravaging the lives and dreams of billions of our poorest neighbors.” It is rare, that a statement like this, one so enormous, so far reaching in its implications, so shocking in its claim can also be undeniably true. As with the Holocaust or the purgings of Stalin or Mao's great leap forward that saw 45 million killed in 4 years, humanity wonders aloud how this could be happening under our noses, "without the world noticing". They ask where the good people are? The collective ego assumes we have evolved past this sort of mass evil. Mr. Haugen goes on to indict us all.
“One would hope that if the world woke up to such a reality, it would swiftly acknowledge and respond to the disaster—but tragically, the world has neither woken up to the reality nor responded in a way that offers meaningful hope for the poor. It has mostly said and done nothing. And as we shall see, 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.”
In the absence of enforced law the strong take from the weak whenever they desire. Land, sex, physical labor; all the poor have, coerced or stolen or worse from them all across the developing world. The problem is deeply complex, rooted in and mired by years of bad governance and inattention by the world community. And though it speaks to the wickedness men are capable of it also reveals how this same wickedness can be kept in relative check where there is rule of law. Please read this book. It will change how you understand poverty, how you view the world. (I am posting this in a longer form on the COH blog too with alot of statistics.)