It's not often that I can recommend an action to someone that I believe will have an immediate impact on their lives. Today is one of those days.
Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission, has written a transformational book about the reality of global poverty from an angle most of us would never consider. The book, The Locust Effect: Why The End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence is a well-written and insightful critique of how the global community has addressed poverty and specifically what key element we have forgotten.
The element of violence.
Haugen says early in the book:
In the lives of the poor, violence has the power to destroy everything - and is unstopped by our other response to their poverty...overwhelmingly, the world does not know that endemic to being poor is a vulnerability to violence, or the way violence is, right now, catastrophically crushing the global poor. 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.
What follows is a series of case studies exploring how poverty is deepened and broadened when law enforcement and criminal justice is privatized and made to serve only those who have the resources to pay for it.
The case studies are brutal, gut-wrenching examples of how innocence paired with economic disadvantage leads to atrocities beyond what most of us could even imagine outside of some bizarre film script. This is not a script, but reality and as such needs to be handled with swiftness and hope.
Haugen leads the reader through history, showing how this problem has existed in the past and has been remedied by grassroots voices speaking out against injustice and the development of consequences for those who would use financial resources to avoid consequences for their actions against the poor and marginalized.
Like any work on this subject, the book opens up the eyes of the reader and produces question upon question as to how the global community (or individuals like you and I) might play a role in being the solution. The future is more open than defined on this situation, however, which may frustrate some readers but I am convinced that if you purchase this book and spend quality time with it, you will find your eyes opened and your mind changed.
Here are three things I invite you all to do:
1. Buy the book. Actually, buy a few copies and get them into the hands of people who you believe would be changed by this as well.
2. Email the link to the book, the intro video, or just send a copy of the book to your state and federal government representatives. The discussion has to rise up to the level of global decision makers, and if you refuse to let this discussion die then they will eventually have to as well.
3. Pray that God's mercy and justice would explode as a result of this book. Pray for the families and victims who are mentioned in the book as well as the IJM representatives who are working in the darkness everyday to provide hope to those in hopeless situations.
One thing. One step. I believe your world will change. Peace.