As the news comes in about the kidnapped American and Canadian missionaries in Haiti, I know we are all concerned. Everyone hopes that these people are quickly released unharmed.
However, the continued unrest in Haiti needs more than a temporary solution. Our island neighbor has too long been ignored by the United States, treated poorly by our nation, and needs our unconditional support. The Haitian people are good people and want nothing more or less than all persons in the world: a measure of dignity, respect, and the right to be fully productive.
The US foreign policy must be retooled to focus on our less-privileged neighbors to provide economic opportunities for Haiti and other nations in the Caribbean and Central America. We must understand that our own success as a nation depends on how willing we are to lift up those in need. The politics of cruelty and deprivation must end and be replaced by a more compassionate and long-term orientation.
Imagine for a moment what would have happened had we invested in Haiti even a fraction of the money we wasted in Afghanistan. Haitian self-sufficiency could be fully realized. We can no longer afford to bomb first and build later; we must build up those nations that are struggling and whose citizens yearn to improve their living conditions.
If we assist the people of Haiti to rebuild their nation’s infrastructure, government, and economic institutions, we can be assured of a true ally forever. In order to stop the kidnappings we must help Haiti realize its full potential. This wonderful island has much to offer the world and we have much to offer the people of a country that could become a true paradise.