Ending Poverty Requires the End of Violence
“We don’t have to have all the answers in order to sound the alarm.”
Page 49 came alive when I traveled to Guatemala City, and I went to the zoo…
I was one that had the advantage of reading this “Game Changing” book before its release, and page 49 stayed with me, as I knew I would be visiting Guatemala City soon. Well, I just returned from being there with International Justice Mission, and the Locust Effect, as I suspected, went from black and white to radiant color when the IJM Team took us to the Zoo in Guatemala City for what they call a “Day of Joy”, a time for us to spend with clients with the hope of, quite literally, bringing them joy!
My experience was a time of feeling joy and pain all at the same time. Pain, because I knew the circumstances that led to the birth of this precious baby I was holding, and his 10 year old mother that sat next to me with her Aunt. Joy, because after I pulled out my Photo Booth App, these kids were laughing like they never have before, and in that moment, they were happy.
This book, like my trip, is filled with pain and joy. Pain, because there are countless stories just like the one I experienced at the Zoo in Guatemala City. Stories where the justice system not only is absent when those suffering violence need them to help, but the justice system IS the perpetrator of the violence they need rescue from. This book is also filled with joy, for me at least, because it starts the discussion about the need to address violence when addressing poverty, and that conversation has been sorely missing and is also the KEY to squashing the locusts of violence that are invading the most poor and vulnerable in our world today.
I am excited to start this discussion and invite you to join me in it! Here is the breakdown of the book:
What is this book addressing?
4 billion people around the world today, literally have NO 9-1-1 to call. As Gary states “The world knows that poor people suffer from hunger and disease, so they get busy trying to meet those needs. But overwhelmingly, the word does not know that endemic to being poor is a vulnerability to violence. As a result, the world is not getting busy trying to stop it. And, in a perfect tragedy, the failure to address that violence is actually devastating much of the other things we are seeking to do to assist them.” So, to put it bluntly, when conversations about alleviating poverty in the developing world were happening at the big boy table, addressing violence was never part of the plan along with building wells, schools and orphanages. The bottom line is, if you are not safe, none of that other assistance matters.
Wow. How did we get to this place?
“Sadly, the public justice systems in the developing world not only fail to protect the poor from violence, but they actually perpetrate violence, protect perpetrators, and make poor people less safe.” Every part of the criminal justice system pipeline is broken. Police. Prosecutors. The Courts. Every bit of it.
Tell me there is some hope for a solution?
In Chapter 10: “It’s Been Done Before” and Chapter 11: “Demonstration Projects of Hope”, Haugen and Boutros provide real life examples of how reforms have been made to the criminal justice systems in the developing world. It’s a glimpse into what is possible when people are awakened to reality of this plague of violence afflicting the poor and we make it a priority to address these complex issues.
What do I do now?
“Likewise, a better day for the poorest in our world will only come as we are willing to walk with them into the secret terror that lies beneath the surface of their poverty” We need to begin having conversations about the clear and urgent need that exists for increased law enforcement and working justice systems. Without those key elements in place, any efforts to alleviate poverty in the developing world will continue to get eaten away by the #LocustEffect. Be that person that starts this conversation. I dare you.
- Buy the book. Read it. Encourage others to understand the problem by doing the same. Check out the book’s website.
- Spread the word – Help us get the word out on social media using the hashtag #LocustEffect as well as including this topic in your everyday conversations.
- Tell Missions leaders, youth leaders & world leaders – Ask the world’s leaders to make this a priority. Start by signing this petition to the UN.