Month: October 2018

What to Say When Words Can’t Heal the Wounds

There was a time when big news would happen and my initial reaction would be to go to blog and write about my thoughts on the news or to share my opinion on the latest trending topic. It was the best way for me to express myself and once in a while those posts would get some substantial traction so I felt like my words carried some value. But lately my faith in the value of blogging has waned as I’ve tried to turn to more direct responses to what’s going on around me. Now when news breaks, my default is not to write a blog post but to reach out to friends of mine or even strangers who are directly impacted by the news and offer my personal support. Rather than logging on I’ve been checking in and trying to be more intentional with my personal relationships. I had, in fact, grown comfortable with the idea that maybe I would never blog on the Green Mango again and allow that chapter of my life to organically close while I searched for more effective ways to use my voice. Then I had a friend of mine earlier this week tell me that they had always looked forward to my posts as one of the few things keeping them sane in life. And that encouraged me to get back on here. So here I am.

I want to be honest, however, of how I’ve grown since I first started this blog. It’s been over 6 years since I first published my list of Mission Team Fashion Mistakes as my introduction to the world as The Green Mango. That first post was written with the intention of being a light-hearted poke at something that I thought way too many people took far too seriously. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the responses to that first post proved just how excessively serious people took such an issue. My response to their response was to then poke even greater fun at issues that they took even more seriously with my subsequent posts. Early on in the days of this blog I was accused of “waging a war against mission teams” and I wrote some things that offended some readers enough that I ended up losing some friends and donors over it all. But in the process, I also gained some friends and donors who discovered me through the blog and shared similar perspectives on the topics that I found important. Ultimately, though, it was about creating some accountability and engaging in debate over topics that too often escape interrogation because they get put in the category of “good work” and “helping people”.

Although it was never my intention, maybe I was waging a war because I was truly annoyed and frustrated by a lot of the things that I saw foreigners doing in Haiti and the ways that they justified those things in the name of the same God that I followed. And in my venting of those frustrations, I may have energized the frustrations of others and ended up creating more division than solutions. Through the years of exploring how I might continue to use this platform I’ve tried to adjust my approach to remedy that. And through that journey, I’ve changed, but also the world around me has changed. The Haiti that inspired me to start writing 6 years ago is not the same Haiti that I write in today. Although things remain complicated here in Haiti, the country is not flooded by swarms of mission teams anymore and the poisonous alphabet soup of NGO’s vying for power and influence has greatly diminished over the years. So, either I won the war that I was waging, or, more likely, the war just migrated to different places where the same misguided ethnocentric, racist, and classist views of the world could wreak havoc on different issues with their “good intentions”. Using those good intentions to screw with Haiti has become less sexy over the years and instead the calamitous interventions of well meaning people focuses its energy closer to home.

The original intention of the Green Mango Blog, however, has always been to be honest about the places where I as an individual and we as people have some ripening to do. Sometimes that means dragging what is rotten out into the sun and shining a light on it. Other times it means simply remaining connected to the branch that you have sprung from and allowing yourself to be fed and to grow. Then only when you’re ready can you feed others. That’s why the blog is named the Green Mango. The Haitian proverb says “You never throw a rock a green mango.” I’ll admit to having used this blog to throw rocks of my own. But I continue to grow; I continue to ripen; I continue to evolve and learn.

So, for my own sake but also for the sake of those of you who depend on this blog for a bit of sanity in an insane world, I will also continue to write. I can’t guarantee what direction the writing may take from here. I’ll admit that when I look at what’s going on in the world, I often find myself at a loss for comment. The issues that get me riled up these days and make me want to fire off an angry blog are mostly happening back in the US. Yet my duty to the work that I am committed to here in Haiti keeps my energy focused on practical means to continue making a difference here where I am currently planted.  When news does break these days, the first question that I try to ask myself is always how can I be a healer in any situation. Seldom when I ask myself that question do I find the answer to be, “write a blog.” The wounds of this world are so deep sometimes that they can’t be healed by words alone. Justice, Love, Dignity, Compassion, and Forgiveness are difficult to send across the internet. Usually it takes an honest but uncomfortable conversation with someone you love and trust. Sometimes it does take protests, and righteous anger, and voting. But when it does call for writing, and I feel like my voice can add something constructive to the communal dialogue, I will continue to post here, hopefully with more frequency that I have been in the past year or so.

In order to do that, though, I would love to hear from you, my readers, as to what topics you would like me to write on. Give me some ideas. I’ll be posting some more topical posts soon. I promise at least one more this week. And, if you truly do appreciate what I write on The Green Mango and would like to encourage me to keep at it, then please click on the Donate button just over there on the right side of your screen and send me some love that way. I will keep writing if it seems like people really do find value in what I write, but one of the main factors in me writing less lately has been the fact that blogging don’t pay the bills and I gotta focus my energy on activities that are gonna sustain me financially. I’ve been too broke this past year to use my time blogging. That’s just the truth.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading. I appreciate you and your presence more than you know.

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