IVP - Strangely Dim - A Conspiracy of Neglect

January 12, 2011

A Conspiracy of Neglect

A year ago today my friend Kent let me know that he was safe.

I had seen him just a couple of weeks prior--a treat, since most of our interactions are necessarily by phone; he's in Miami or Haiti, while I'm usually at my desk in suburban Chicago. We'd talked regularly over the course of the previous year as I edited his book Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle about living and learning in Haiti. In November we had a release party with him on the phone; in early December I saw him at a retreat; and at the end of December 2009 I caught up with him, along with his friends Enel and Edvard, at the Urbana Student Missions Conference. And then the earthquake. And then the quick notes letting us know he was safe, he was in Miami, and that he'd be out of touch for a while as he tracked down friends and loved ones on the ground in Haiti, and as he traveled there to deal with the aftermath.

Word came in later from Kent that my new friend John, his codirector at Haiti Partners, was safe along with his family. Enel and Edvard were harder to track down; eventually we learned that Edvard was fine, that he'd been across town from his family but that they were well, but Enel had been on the third story of a university building that collapsed. His experience escaping the building and eventually reuniting with loved ones is recounted in Kent's second book, After Shock, released just last week by Likewise Books.

I freely confess that I thought very little of Haiti before working with Kent on his books, but since the earthquake it's never far from my mind. I went last May with a team selected by Likewise; we worshiped on Pentecost Sunday in a leveled church building in Darbonne, and I was encouraged to see that Haiti has not forgotten God, and God has not forgotten Haiti.

Sometimes I think that the unstated logic of the world, the logic that allows us to persevere over time, the logic that keeps major world powers on top and the rest of the world resigned to it, is a sort of conspiracy of neglect: we all agree to pay attention to some and systematically forget others, and then we stick with the plan. We fret over the clear and present danger of Cuba; our cruise ships stop at the Dominican Republic; we buy time shares in the Bahamas and follow the music scene in Jamaica. But Haiti we overlook, over and over again.

I'm probably projecting. But in any case, Haiti remains on our minds, in our prayers, a year after one of the most devastating natural disasters in world history. This past fall I was at a conference where the plenary speaker invited us to sing along with "Waving Flag," a song of defiance that became an unofficial anthem calling us to break with the unspoken conspiracy, to defy the unspoken logic, to stand with and pray for and, by God, remember Haiti. We do so again today.

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Listen to "Waving Flag" here; to get updates on the work of Haiti Partners, click here.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at January 12, 2011 7:54 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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