Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, by Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Specifically, it will discuss the book as if explaining it to a friend who had not read the book, so they would be able to understand the whole book with out having to read it. Jean-Bertrand Aristide's "Eyes of the Heart" is a compelling look at a country so low on the economic scale that it barely exists. Aristide wants the world to understand the hardships his fellow citizens face, but more than that, he wants the world to take responsibility for the suffering going on, and the way the riches nations seem to ignore and foster poverty in the poorest nations.
EYES OF THE HEART
Author Jean-Bertrand Aristide was the President of the Republic of Haiti, a Catholic Priest, and a dedicated humanitarian, which makes him an expert in the lives of his people, and those residents of other third world countries. His democratic presidency was overthrown by a military coup, and he was deposed for 1,111 days. When he returned to Haiti after the coup, he continued to serve his country until the next election. He then formed the humanitarian foundation, the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, which works to get the Haitian people involved in their own government, and supports literacy for all Haitians. He wrote the book "Eyes of the Heart" to promote understanding of the Haitian people and their plight. They are among some of the poorest in the world, and most are illiterate. Aristide was born in 1953, and was educated predominantly in Haiti. He was expelled from his Catholic order because they felt he mixed religion and politics. In 1996, he married. Today he administers his foundation, and works tirelessly for democracy, freedom, and literacy for his people.
Aristide wrote the book to promote the plight of his people, to show the world how the poor people of the world really live, and what they can teach those of us who choose to listen. He said, "I forward to you a piece of what the poor of Haiti have taught me."
Aristide opens his small volume with the chapter "A Crisis of Faith." He establishes the poverty in his country by likening world poverty to a hand worth $100, where the thumb is worth $86, and the little finger only $1. This signifies that the richest 20% of the world have 86% of the wealth, while the rest of the world struggles with the other 14%.
He also speaks about hunger, and the human crisis that this great poverty creates. He writes, "Global capitalism becomes a machine devouring our planet. The little finger, the men and women of the poorest 20%, are reduced to cogs in this machine, the bottom rung in global production, valued only as cheap labor, otherwise altogether disposable."
This clearly shows we live in a disposable society, but people were not supposed to be part of the convenience of our lives. Throughout history, the wealthiest people have always held the most power over those less fortunate, but it is unfortunate in our "enlightened" and accomplished society that we still ignore the plight of those who live right next door.
In chapter two, "Globalization: A Choice Between Death and Death," Aristide discusses our incredible global economy, where money changes hands in a millisecond, and the most important thing is the "bottom line" and the stockholders. This global marketplace is far different from the marketplaces in Haiti the author remembers from his childhood. Here, the people meet to shop, gossip, and discuss politics while they choose from a huge variety of fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the farms. Aristide calls it a "market exchange, and a human exchange," and it is quite clear this human exchange is what is most missing in our modern business environment, and the current debacles with Enron, World.com, and others clearly show. There is less humanity in humankind in business, and Aristide believes as the world marketplace increases, that poor countries will receive less and less trade, and their economy will suffer even more. Aristide states there are about 20,000 Haitians employed in industry, while there are 2.5 million people living in Port-au-Prince alone, leading to 70% unemployment.
If this shocking number applied to the United States, our economy would collapse, the people would lead mass uprisings against the administration, and yet, in Haiti, it is the accepted norm. The Haitian people have acculturated to their third world, poverty stricken environment, and, as Aristide notes, they have only a choice between death and death...there is no other option when there is nothing for them to do.
The third chapter, "A Third Way," the author advocates "thinking outside the box" to solve the problems of the third world. He calls it thinking in the "third way," or coming up with another alternative to the obvious, but either way, it advocates adaptation in the way we look at the problems of the world, and adaptation in how we deal with them.
Chapter four "Give Me Chocolate!'" is an emotional look at the poor children of Haiti, and the hopeless future most of them face. Part of their dependence on an economy that is almost non-existent, and part of their dependence is on a country who has survived slave revolts, political coups and unrest, and indifference from the rest of the world, but has sold her economic soul in the process. Haiti is struggling to rebuild her economy, and in the process, the world watches, unconcerned, and unsympathetic.
Chapter five, "Democratizing Democracy," really gets to the heart of the matter in Haiti - the children, and how poverty affects the. Aristide covers some of the programs developed to help these children, including the Little People's Radio, where children from the streets run the station, report the news, and speak their minds about their needs, their hunger, and their right to democracy. As Aristide notes, "Only the day-to-day participation of the people at all levels of governance can breathe life into democracy and create the possibility for people to play a significant role in shaping the state and the society that they want."
This ideal of democracy is demonstrated early in the children who look toward their future with hope and vision. Aristide also discusses his own foundation in this chapter, and how he hopes it will make a difference in the democracy and everyday life of the people of his country.
In chapter six, "The Water of Life," Aristide talks about the poor children who come to his home on weekends to swim in his swimming pool. Most have never seen a pool before, and only 20% of the entire Haitian population has access to clean drinking water.
As Aristide notes, "We say no child is so poor she does not deserve to swim in a pool."
The author's point is not the pool, it is the apartheid in his country, where wealthy people saw images of these children swimming together in Aristide's pool, and were frightened the poor children would invade their neighborhoods looking for pools. It was a sad situation, and it illustrates the great gap between the wealthy and the poor all over the world. The poor frighten the wealthy, and this is inexcusable. It is this fear, on both sides, which often starts the bloodiest coups.
Chapter seven, "A Taste of Salt," discusses the deplorable educational facilities in Haiti, and the statistics of illiteracy, which are staggering. Simply put, most of the people in Haiti are illiterate, but given a chance, they would love to learn. This is "tasting the salt," and most Haitians love to taste the salt, but do not have the chance. We take education in our country for granted, but in…