Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti and Education

I offer this comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

What does this have to do with Haiti? Some facts. . . First of all, a deal with the devil centuries ago did not cause the earth quake. Earth quakes are caused by very understandable actions between the tectonic plates that make up the earth. That's just that TV guy being funny, right? How many Haitians were taught about plate techtonics - standard fare in junior high science in the US and elsewhere?

More importantly, Haiti was a miserable place before the earth quake. Why? The history is interesting and what is shows is that Haiti has suffered through a number of 'governments' that were primarily interested in lining their own pockets rather than do anything for the people such as, libraries, streets and sanitation, and education. Education is the key.

Ignorant people can be controlled with violence and religion. Organized religion is a great way to keep the general population ignorant. If people are allowed and even encouraged to attend church and learn their catechisms ONLY then they won't know what they're missing in the form of real education, critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. A totalitarian government goes hand in hand with keeping the people ignorant and religion can only help that government.

Would an educated and reasonable people build such fragile buildings? If the country had universities, scientists, and engineers and a government that supported free thought for the betterment of the people they would also have had some building codes. Would they also then have some structure to their civilization that included heavy equipment, fire departments, police, hospitals, and so forth. We've seen now that other countries have had to bring all of that to Haiti not just support what was already there.

Like most Americans (Rush Limbaugh being the exception) I feel real sorry for the Haitians. I feel sorry on a couple of levels. The obvious is just the huge hunk of suffering that is going on right now. Of course. On another level I'm saddened by the Haitians either thinking that God is punishing them or somehow saving them while killing their friends and neighbors. I was saddened by the woman on CNN who said that while she was entombed for 50 some hours she just prayed and prayed. I wondered how much more quickly she might have been found if she had hollered for help once in a while. I'm always amazed by the human ability to see their prayers as being answered while others are apparently not and them not wondering why that is or making the big leap that maybe prayers had nothing to do with any of it. You can't have that thought without being educated as to the reasonableness of the natural world. Effects have causes that are understandable but it takes an education to know that and it takes religion to NOT know that.

Money is going to be flowing into Haiti now for years to come. If they want to truly pick themselves up and join the 21st century they will funnel as much of that money as possible into real public education and not leave that to the Catholic church but if they have to, leave it to the Jesuits!

This just in from CNN. . .

Many observers have a simple explanation for what makes Haitians so devout.

"Because in all poor countries, you have to believe in something," said Agnes Pierre-Louis, the Haitian-born manager of her family-owned hotel. "If they don't have that, they don't have anything."

Added Diederich: "They leave everything in the hands of God. When you have so little, what else can you turn to?"

I think this makes my point very well. "You HAVE to believe in something" - sure when you are completely uneducated. It is completely understandable that people with nothing including no access to variety of thought, science, nor critical thinking will inevitably turn to religion as the answer to everything. Is this a good thing though? Is it taking them anywhere? Will it make Haiti a better place in the future?

I'm a little bothered by the portrayal of the spontaneous religious ceremonies and singing on CNN as if it were something cute or miraculous. Maybe in the case of Haiti it is a sad thing since they have nothing to balance their outright submission to religion and these demonstrations are really just another example of their abject ignorance and lack of education.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More good stuff. I'm getting so sick of all media coverage of stuff like this. Locally, I'm sick of the way local TV stations always give extensive coverage to anything the pope does or says, or where he appears. And when he comes to Chicago, holy shit! I'm trying to figure out how to get my news without watching any TV. There must be something on the net that is completely unbiased. Huff Post comes the closest, but even that brings me down. I guess I just need to move to the high Sierras and live there!

Rich P