Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Good Intentions Go Awry

This recent mess -- the Baptists from Idaho who decided to go to the rescue of Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake because God told them to -- has had me shaking my head.

Certainly I understand to desire to help but this little mission of good will appears to have been fueled by equal parts of ignorance and arrogance --  Of course these children will be better off with us -- we're Americans and Christians!

Never mind that many of the children weren't orphans.  Never mind that Haiti is pretty strongly Roman Catholic. Never mind that in the US this would be considered kidnapping.

Oh wait, it's considered kidnapping in Haiti?  Who knew that third world countries had laws?

Michael Rowe said it better than I can -- with lots of good links to back up his statements.


Haiti is already struggling with the devastation of a monster earthquake.  Its children have been the victims of child traffickers in the past -- small wonder the government is taking this matter seriously. 

And now, in the midst of all the turmoil, with bodies still unburied and food still scarce, the government has this gang of clueless do-gooders on their hands. (Their lawyer says they are being treated very badly -- there is no air conditioning.) 

So, was it God telling them to do this (the same God who sent the earthquake, according to Pat Robertson) or was it their own egos?


I know what I'm betting on.







20 comments:

Martin H. said...

Vicki

It's a topsy-turvy world alright. Shortly after the earthquake, I watched in disbelief as much was made of the fact that a group of Christian missionaries managed, after some delays, to get on a plane home. One of the group (giggling all the while) told of her relief to be flying out of the area. ??????

KarenB said...

My mind boggles at the absolute arrogance of the missionaries. There are so many legitimate ways to help; why they had to do something so destructive instead of constructive says something about the capacity of the human mind to create rationalizations for just about any behavior.

Kaye Barley said...

and I'm betting with you, Vicki. Best I not say any more about this or someone may seriously want to knock me off my soapbox.

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

Usually my policy is to keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics and religion because it never comes to good. Everyone has their beliefs and I respect that theirs, are like mine, MINE. I am a Christian though not a fanatic Christian and there is a big difference. This situation has got to me though as I believe they had the best of intentions toward helping these children and it appears the parents wanted the children to go with the missionaries feeling their children would benifit from it. These people are not American criminals with criminal records for kidnapping!For the Hatian Government to lock them up after Americans have sent millions of dollars over there for relief efforts to me is hidious!I am a believer that WE all makes mistakes in judgement throughout our lives and it's usually based on our beliefs for or against something.I am grateful that America is a place where you don't get locked up for bad judgement amidst good intentions!! :)

Vicki Lane said...

I agree that their intentions were good, just like the guy in the article I linked to said. But I don't believe that good intentions are always enough.

The people who removed Native American children from their families and sent them to school where they weren't allowed to speak their native language had 'good' intentions. The man who killed Dr. Tiller felt that his intentions were 'good' -- to save all those unborn babies.

Yes, evidently some families sent their children with this group. But many seemed to feel it was a temporary situation. And the leader of the group has said that all the children came from an orphanage when that wasn't the case. And she said they weren't going to be put up for adoption while her website says otherwise.

No, I certainly don't think their intentions were evil. But I do think they were misguided. I hope they will be sent home soon.

carolr said...

When I first heard this story over the weekend, I had concerns. Why do we (Americans) always feel we're more just,more right, more "together"? Vicki, I have read also about the Native American children.
To me, it's the same deal.

Merisi said...

I have known quite a few people who had lost track of brothers or sisters when they were fleeing during the upheavals of WWII, some to never again be seen. They were lost in the chaos of the flight, the children too small to be able to tell their names or where they had been coming from. These are some heart-wrenching, infinitely sad family tragedies. Now imagine a group of people decides to take small children out of a country without even trying to leave their names with information about the children with some kind of authority? A police station, Doctors Without Borders, somebody, if not for the sake of the children and their relatives who may be looking for them, then for their own sake, to remove any doubt about their really only wanting to help the most helpless? How could they round up these children and not even thinking about leaving a trace about their whereabouts? This is what I have been asking myself since I read about this story. Imagine a group of foreigners doing the same with American children right after an earthquake or a flood like the one that hit New Orleans! There would have been an outcry all over the American media and the people who tried to take American children out of the country arrested and brought to justice.

In one of the many articles about accelerated adoption there was the story of a little girl. Her mother felt she had not the financial whereabouts to take care of her child and gave it up for adoption. Why not support mother and child financially instead of adopting her child?

Vicki Lane said...

People who 'know' what God wants are always a little scary to me -- sometimes a lot scary.

It will be interesting to see how this story plays out. I hope the Haitian government, having made their point, will release these foolish souls. And I hope a lesson will have been learned.

willow said...

Yep, those ignorant Bible thumpers who think they have a direct phone line to God really ARE scary! This is crazy.

Vicki Lane said...

Can somebody say 'Amen'?

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Hi Vicki, I'll say AMEN. These Baptists were indeed both ignorant and arrogant, and to blindly state as an earlier commenter did that she's glad we don't lock people up in this country because of bad judgement makes me wonder what planet she's living on. We get nowhere with blinders on, we only contribute to the muddle of prejudice and, yes, bad judgment.
Missionaries, I fear, do not have a good rep around the world or here on our continent where they treated the native people like savages. Well, don't get me started on that, nor on the horrible effects of slavery on Haiti, the effects of which still cripple that country after France made them pay millions to pay back their "owners" after the Haitians staged the first successful slave rebellion in history. It scared the bejesus out of Thomas Jefferson, who would not recognize Haiti as a state. So much for our own "good intentions." (The legacy of slavery still cripples our own country, esp. in the South.)

Star said...

We all want to help, but it's no good just blasting in without any knowledge of the country is it. Those poor children, they won't know which way is up before long.
Blessings, Star

Vicki Lane said...

Just read somewhere that the Scientologists have been at it too -- flying in to Haiti with no supplies -- planning to buy food and water at the airport in Port Au Prince. Arrgh!

Vagabonde said...

I was just reading an article on Ms Silsby the organizer of the missionary group. She indeed knew very well what she was doing. Here is part of the article: “Ms. Silsby and her 24-year-old live-in nanny, Charisa Coulter, organized a nonprofit group, New Life Children's Refuge, which they incorporated last November, and planned a companion organization in the Dominican Republic.” I guess she also had an online business which did not work out and she owes a lot of money. “ Ms. Silsby had purchased a two-story house in Meridian, where a neighbor said she was known for her blue Lexus convertible and her dog, Bentley. Her financial difficulties mounted last year. Idaho court records show several judgments against Ms. Silsby in 2009.” What bothers me is that if one says they are a “good Christian” then everything is OK to most people here. What if she had been a “good Muslim”? I bet they would jump on her for kidnapping charges. It’s easy to say one has only good intentions – but when you see that she indeed knew very well that she was doing something unlawful, then do the rest of the people think that it is OK to be unlawful if you are a Christian? Like Michael Rowe says in his article: “It appears that a significant number of American evangelical Christians believe that the world outside the borders of the United States is little more than their personal Biblical coloring book, with God on one page and the Devil on the opposite page, and bright colors for everything.” What arrogance these people have– why don’t they go into the LA black ghettos and take kids there … you would see CNN screaming then. After events like that it is no wonder that the rest of the world does not trust nor like the US.

Vagabonde said...

Just an addition to my comment – for people who believe that they were just missionaries, and not criminal, they should read the Idaho newspaper. Laura Silsby has a pattern of flouting laws. She's due in Ada court again this month. She has been the subject of eight civil lawsuits and 14 unpaid wage claims on top of 9 traffic violations, some without proof of insurance or registration. She has no money, her house has been foreclosed. How was she going to take care of them? sell them maybe to good Christian homes. Here is the link: http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/1067267.html.

Vicki Lane said...

Hey, Vagabonde, Yes, I've been following the various stories with great interest. If I were writing a mystery about this, I would indeed have it turn out that Ms. Silsby was in it for the money. And that may be the case. It's also possible that she's just pathetically incompetent and overly enthusiastic. Who knows -- maybe she was hoping for a reality show of her own?

Whatever it was, being a Christian and having good intentions sometimes just isn't enough...

And that's one reason I posted this -- to let it be known that not all Americans agree with such behavior.

A fascinating story to me. My first novel SIGNS IN THE BLOOD was all about the very real dangers of blind faith.

Vagabonde said...

You are right, Vicki – and I am reading your book right now.

Amelia said...

Vicki, I was driving home listening to the story of these missionaries on NPR yesterday and for whatever reason thought of you and John listening to it and wondered what your thoughts might be, and here they are. I am very grateful that you so eloquently addressed this...Americans often fail to realize how useless our Big Whitey model is as we roll into countries with wonderful intentions that can often do more harm than good. My heart breaks daily listening to the stories that are coming out of Haiti right now. For a story about a Hatian missionary that's doing some good, I really enjoyed this: http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_965_Roody_Joseph.mp3/view
on "The Story" yesterday. This man Roody walked 20 miles to deliver formula to two brand new babies. Also, it mentioned a number of times that aid relief is failing to bring in diapers and formula, if anyone is looking for something to send. What a sad time for our southern neighbors.

NCmountainwoman said...

I couldn't agree with you more, except I'm not at all sure how "good" the intentions were. I'm so skeptical I think they were acting on their own ego and not a humanitarian base.

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful story, Amelia!

And I know what you mean, mountainwoman -- I'm just trying to be fair and balanced ;-)